Colorado teachers celebrate proposed elimination of Budget Stabilization Factor

The so-called B.S. Factor allowed the state to divert about $10 billion from schools
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Posted at 5:34 PM, Feb 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-29 22:49:11-05

DENVER — Dozens of teachers joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Colorado’s capitol on Thursday to mark a milestone in education funding — the proposed elimination of the Budget Stabilization Factor.

The Budget Stabilization Factor, also known as the BS Factor, is a mechanism that has in the past allowed the state to divert about $10 billion from K-12 schools to other programs.

Teachers like Justina Carter of Pueblo said the BS Factor has made their jobs more difficult by underfunding schools for years.

“I’m a language teacher and I have flashcards that are showing kids what’s a fax machine and what’s a Blackberry. It’s ridiculous,” said Carter. “Educators are taking out of their own pocket to provide things that our students need.”

Amie Baca-Oehlert, the president of the Colorado Education Association, said the BS Factor has also led to larger class sizes and forced districts to make tough cuts.

“We've seen students often without access to mental health coverage that they need. We've seen a massive educator shortage because we have educators who want a wage where they can work and live in the communities they serve," said Baca-Oehlert.

But better days could be ahead.

Gov. Jared Polis’ proposed budget would eliminate the BS Factor and fully fund schools for the first time in years.

“Supporting students by ensuring educators have the resources they need to succeed in helping every child get a world-class education strengthens Colorado’s future and creates more economic opportunities for all Coloradans,” Polis said. “This year's historic education funding marks the beginning of a new era of education funding in Colorado and I thank the General Assembly for its partnership in this important effort. I am proud to deliver for our students and our educators.”

Polis was one of several speakers at Thursday’s rally.

Although most of the speakers were Democrats and progressives, eliminating the BS Factor is something Republicans like State Senators Paul Lundeen and Barbara Kirkmeyer support.

“For the last 14 years, we have been balancing the budgets on the backs of students,” Kirkmeyer said. “That is just wrong.”

Baca-Oehlert said her organization has been fighting to eliminate the BS Factor for years, along with teachers and parents.

“An entire generation of students in Colorado have never attended public school in a fully funded environment,” she said.

Although schools would be considered fully funded if the BS Factor were eliminated, Baca-Oehlert said they wouldn’t be funded at 2024 levels.

Instead, they'd be funded at levels still decades behind where many believe Colorado should be.

“We're only going to be at 1989 funding levels, but it's a step forward from the over $10 billion that have been underfunded in our school since the inception of the Budget Stabilization Factor,” said Baca-Oehlert. “So, we’re making those strides forward.”

While they said that’s worth celebrating, they believe Colorado still has a long way to go.

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