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Hickenlooper’s signature sends revamped school financing plan to voters

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Sponsors of the School Finance Act, Sens. Mike Johnston and Rollie Heath, high five moments after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the proposal into law at the Capitol in May.

DENVER — The landmark overhaul of how Colorado distributes education funding, the result of two years of meetings, discussion and ideas from thousands of parents and educators across the state, was signed into law at the Capitol Tuesday morning.

When Gov. John Hickenlooper set down the last of the ceremonial pens used to sign the bill into law, he put the proposal in the hands of Colorado voters, who now must approve an estimated $1.1 billion in new taxes this November.

“This bill really positions Colorado to be the national leader in terms of school reform and school effectiveness,” Hickenlooper said. “It allows us to look at being number one in the country in creating a financial system that really threads reform in such a way that delivers results.”

Senate Bill 213 aims to direct additional funding to the school districts that need it the most, those with higher percentages of at-risk or English language learners. The legislation would also fund full-day kindergarten.

Now it’s up to the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, to explain this complicated funding formula and the proposed taxing model — that piece has yet to be figured out — to voters across the state.

Hickenlooper said he would assist in selling the proposal to taxpayers and that he has “preferences” about the taxing formula but didn’t disclose them.

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