COLORADO- A bill hasn’t been introduced just yet, but lawmakers are already looking at making free full day kindergarten a reality in Colorado.
The Joint Budget Committee has set aside $185 million for full day kindergarten, but there are still some steps that need to happen before anything is official.
The move doesn’t mean it’s funded, as lawmakers need to introduce legislation to make it happen.
Once that bill is introduced, it will need to go through the standard procedure for bills at the capitol.
‘We all understand how important it is, we just have to make sure that we are prudent and we are making careful decisions about all of the funding priorities that we must attend to for the entire state,’ said Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo) who serves on the Joint Budget Committee.
‘We have to make sure that this a priority for the General Assembly as well, and they’ll prove that to us if they pass the bill,’ said Esgar.
According to Esgar, the committee took a conservative proposal this year on the budget, mainly due to the concern of a possible recession in the coming years.
‘We feel confident that we are listening and we are hearing what people need, they wanted us to invest in education, they wanted us to invest in transportation and they wanted us to cut costs in health care and that’s what this budget reflects, ‘ said Esgar.
The budget, also known as ‘the long bill’ at the state capitol, will be introduced any day now.
A final passage on the budget is expected at the beginning of April.
However, there is concern over setting aside money for free full day Kindergarten from lawmakers.
‘We fund our schools through our property tax and revenues through oil and gas, you can’t have your cake and eat it too,’ said Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs).
Hill is referring to a bill making its way through the legislature right now that would change the oil and gas industry in the state.
‘If we’re going to have a healthy, thriving, robust economy that’s what we need to fund our schools and to fund full day K, and I don’t see how we do both, ‘ said Hill.
Hill added he believes the legislature should be funding full day kindergarten, but doesn’t believe the money is there.
Esgar says there were small cuts made to parts of the budget to make room for full day kindergarten- but not a major cut to any one specific area.