Coloradans won't be voting next fall on whether to fund full-day kindergarten statewide after legislation was rejected by a Senate panel Monday.
The measure would have asked voters to
use money scripted for refunds under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights for education instead.
The Republican-controlled Senate sent the legislation not to the education committee but to its state affairs panel, otherwise known as the "kill committee." It was voted down 3-2, with three Republicans on the panel voting no.
Get details on Colorado state legislation.
Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said the bill was an example of the legislature "thumbing its nose" at TABOR, although others argued the bill was in line with the tax amendment because voters would have had a say.
Eleven states and Washington, D.C., require school districts to provide publicly funded full-day kindergarten, according to the Children's Defense Fund. Colorado is one of 19 states that fund kindergarten-age children at about half the rate of students in first grade through 12th grade.
In Colorado, districts decide whether to use funds to provide full-day kindergarten and how much to charge. Many charge $200 to $400 per month.
More than 64,000 kindergartners attend school at districts in Colorado that offer full-day kindergarten. The majority of those attend full-day kindergarten, according to state data.
The legislation from Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, proposed increasing funding during the next five years, making full-day kindergarten fully funded by 2021. Under current law, the TABOR refund in 2017-18 would total an estimated $384 million, which would have gone toward full-day kindergarten if voters approved the plan.
Before voting on the legislation, the committee voted 4-1 to amend the bill to first pay off the "negative factor" — the $850 million deficit between what schools receive annually and what the school finance formula says they should receive. If any funds remained after that, they would have funded full-day kindergarten.