Millie Hamner: We can’t afford more cuts to education
This recession has made life tough for the people of Colorado these last few years. Many have lost their jobs, and many others that need help the most have faced cuts to vital services because of reduced state revenues. Balancing the budget has been a challenge each year of this recession, and many tough choices have been made, but this year will be the most difficult yet as we work to deal with a $1 billion revenue shortfall – and we will not be getting any more help from federal recovery dollars.
We are all in this together, and we know that everyone has to come together to help pull us out of this recession and put the people of Colorado back to work. That’s why Colorado’s House and Senate Democrats went on a statewide “budget listening tour” last weekend. Visiting 12 locations, from Colorado Springs to Glenwood Springs, from Denver to Greeley, we presented the problem to the people of Colorado and asked you to tell us your values and priorities.
We heard many perspectives on how to balance the budget – everything from preserving mental health programs to reforming our prison system, from increasing funding for roads and bridges to improving early childhood education, from demanding further sacrifices from public employees to asking our top-income earners to pay their fare share. But most of all, we heard the people of Colorado say that they wanted us to protect our K-12 education system.
Coloradans understand that a quality education system is vital to our success in a 21st century economy, and they know they want their own kids to have every opportunity to be successful and happy. Coloradans understand that an educated workforce can attract businesses to Colorado and create good jobs. And they understand the importance of investing in our people for our future.
I have always been committed to improving education in Colorado, but after last weekend, your feedback has only strengthened my resolve. I will not vote for a budget that slashes $375 million from K-12 education, nearly $500 per student, while tax loopholes keep shelter corporations and special interests from paying their fair share.
Colorado’s parents know what these cuts mean for their kids. They mean bigger class sizes and less individual attention from teachers. Our families cannot afford another deep cut to our most important resource: our children.
As mentioned above, the cuts this year will be broad and deep, and we’re not going to be able to avoid cuts to K-12 and other vital services. The point is that we must do everything we can to focus our limited resources on our top priorities, and that means that K-12 education will be on my mind with every vote I take.
I encourage you to stay involved, and if you have ideas about the services you value the most, please share them with me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (303) 866-2952. Thanks.
Millie Hamner is representative for House District 56, which includes Summit County.
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