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End of 2024 Legislative Session Marks Significant Victories for Public Education in Colorado

Posted on: May 9, 2024
Posted By: CEA Communications
Posted in: Press
Tagged: Press Release

CONTACT
Bethany Morris
Colorado Education Association
bmorris@coloradoea.org
432-553-8747

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2024 

End of 2024 Legislative Session Marks Significant Victories for Public Education in Colorado  

Denver, CO — Colorado’s 2024 legislative session ended and marked significant victories for public education in Colorado. The Colorado Education Association’s (CEA) nearly 40,000 members advocated for buying down the Budget Stabilization Factor (B.S. Factor) to $0, increasing the safety of students and educators and protecting renter and workers’ rights.

Over the course of 120 days, CEA held 15 lobby days, which were attended by approximately 475 members. Additionally, CEA took positions on 159 bills, worked to pass 15 bills, and amended or helped defeat 23 bills.

“We had a bold agenda at the start of this legislative session that aimed to improve the lives of students and educators across all four corners of the state,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and President of CEA. “This session, our victories were numerous and included historic investments in public education that will cultivate a more equitable educational landscape where students, regardless of their zip code or background, will have access to an exceptional education.”

Among key victories spearheaded by the union this year was the complete buy down of the B.S. Factor in SB24-188, Public School Finance. Introduced in 2010 as a way to balance the state budget during the Great Recession, the B.S. Factor “borrowed” money from K-12 education every year until Colorado students faced a funding gap of more than $10 billion. Combined with state tax code constraints, per-pupil funding levels have failed to keep pace with national standards, consistently placing Colorado among the lowest-ranked states. While buying down the B.S. Factor is an important step to fully funding public education in Colorado, doing so will only return public education funding to 1989 levels.

Other victories included HB24-1320, Educator Safety Task Force, which creates a task force comprised of 17 individuals with professional and lived experience in Colorado schools to study the impact of state policy, staff shortages and resource inequalities on the safety of public school staff and develop a set of recommendations that avoids contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline.

“I applaud the bill sponsors for their work on this piece of legislation,” said Baca-Oehlert. “Passing this bill means that we’re one step closer towards creating safer schools for both our students and educators. However, we need to ensure that we’re not contributing to the existing school-to-prison pipeline when developing legislative recommendations. Looking forward, any recommendations must demonstrate a commitment to fostering inclusive and equitable learning environments for all.”

CEA was also part of the Colorado Homes for All (COHFA) coalition, which helped pass HB24-1098, Cause Required for Eviction of Residential Tenant. The bill establishes a “For Cause” eviction policy that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants from residential properties without just cause. This will protect students, families, and educators from unjust evictions.

“This vital piece of legislation stands as a safeguard against displacement, protecting the fundamental right of individuals to secure and maintain their homes by mandating justifications for evictions,” said Baca-Oehlert. “ By enshrining just cause provisions into law, we are not only protecting the sanctity of housing but also fortifying the very foundation of our communities. This measure serves as a cornerstone for stability, fostering environments where families can put down roots, children can attend school without fear of disruption and educators can dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the task of shaping young minds.”

This session, CEA also worked with labor partners to pass HB24-1260, the Worker Freedom Act, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend “captive audience” meetings, where employers are known to espouse union-busting talking points, on company time. CEA’s nearly 40,000 members also sent over 35,000 emails to members of the legislature to make changes to HB24-1448. Before CEA lobbied for changes to the bill, it included several concerning provisions, including a backpack funding study taken directly from ALEC model legislation. Finally, CEA worked on SB24-233 and successfully safeguarded the future of K-12 funding while also working bipartisanly to provide property tax relief to Coloradans across all four corners of the state.

“This legislative session, we worked to significantly improve the lives of Colorado students, their families, and educators across the state and succeeded,” said Baca-Oehlert. “Looking ahead, we’d like to carry this momentum into the fall 2024 election cycle by continuing to elect pro-public education candidates to office who we can work with in subsequent legislative sessions to improve the educational landscape for students across all four corners of the state.”

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About the Colorado Education AssociationThe Colorado Education Association is a membership-based organization that represents nearly 40,000 Colorado education professionals. The CEA promise to our students and communities is that the members of the Association will lead the way in guaranteeing every student access to the best public education. By working collectively with all education stakeholders, we will provide the best public education for every student and assure Colorado’s standing as an excellent state in which to learn, live, work, and raise a family.

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