Politics

Colorado lawmaker wants to let lottery money be used for education


As hundreds of Denver Public Schools teachers and their supporters rallied outside the Capitol on Monday, a Republican lawmaker released his idea for getting more money into state education.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, wants to ask voters in 2020 whether the General Assembly could take lottery dollars from the Greater Outdoors Colorado fund and put them into the state’s education fund. If voters approved of the change, lawmakers in the 2021 legislative session would have the option to spend none, some or all of those outdoor dollars on public education.

“I think education funding is a priority. Colorado needs to make education funding a priority,” Sonnenberg said. “Truly, do we have enough outhouses and soccer fields? Can we now re-prioritize and use it for education? I want the voters to decide.”

Voters created the outdoors fund, which is often called GOCO, in 1992. It has spent more than $1.2 billion, according to its website. Those dollars have built 900 miles of trails, upgraded 56 playgrounds and added more than 47,000 acres into the state parks system.

The majority of GOCO’s money, however, doesn’t fund ongoing programs — making it potentially easier for state lawmakers to move it around from year to year.

In 2018, the fund reported taking in a little more than $66.2 million. It’s a lot of money, but it’s less than 1 percent of the state’s $7 billion education budget.

“It could make a dent. It could help,” said Sonnenberg, whose wife is a sixth-grade teacher.

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Getting his resolution on the ballot means convincing two-thirds of state lawmakers in both chambers to vote for it. Before that can happen, however, Sonnenberg must first convince Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, to introduce it.

State law guarantees a committee hearing on every bill, but the Senate president has the power to unilaterally decide when resolutions get introduced.

…read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics

      

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