2019 Legislative Session

Date Posted: January 2, 2019

Intro

The Colorado Children’s Campaign serves as the leading voice for kids at the state Capitol and in communities across the state. In our 34-year history we’ve worked with policymakers from every corner of the state and every political perspective to improve the well-being of Colorado kids. Children’s issues aren’t partisan, and we’ve learned that we can develop innovative solutions to our children’s issues when we work together.

As the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly begins, we’ve prepared the best available data and research on child well-being to help advocates and policymakers advance—and protect—policies and investments we know will provide the greatest benefits to kids.

 Priorities

Child Health Priorities

  • Improving maternal and infant health by strengthening the Maternal Mortality Review Committee.
  • Adding a dental benefit to Colorado’s CHIP program to improve access to oral health care for pregnant people.
  • Protecting and expanding quality, affordable health insurance coverage options for kids and families.
  • Protecting the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, and other ways we understand the well-being of Colorado’s youth.
  • Expanding access to behavioral health services and supports for students in schools.

K-12 Education Priorities

  • Removing barriers to school lunches for high school students in working families.
  • Advocating for a modernized, equitable school finance formula that targets investments to meet the needs of all students.
  • Advocating for a public revenue system that reverses the unsustainable reliance on state (over local) revenue for education, reduces property taxpayer inequality, and accounts for and equalizes differences in property wealth.
  • Protecting and advancing implementation of evaluations that improve and empower teachers and school leaders.

Early Childhood Priorities

  • Expanding access to full-day kindergarten and quality preschool options.
  • Increasing the capacity of early intervention programs to connect families to supportive services.
  • Reducing infant deaths and eliminating racial inequities in infant mortality.
  • Improving access to affordable quality child care by creating an innovative tax credit to support early childhood educators.
  • Creating a strategic action plan to address the decline in licensed family child care and infant child care.
  • Promoting alternatives to the use of expulsion and suspension of children in preschool and the early elementary grades.

Budget Priorities

  • Addressing child poverty and promoting family economic security by adopting a state-level Child Tax Credit.
  • Promoting access to, and affordability of, quality early care and education by increasing direct investment in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and making Colorado’s Low-Income Child Care Expenses Tax Credit permanent.
  • Increasing funding for the Title X Family Planning program in order to ensure that people are able to access the most effective forms of birth control across the state.
  • Providing additional spending authority to CHP+ to ensure that the program can meet the needs of additional enrollees.
  • Increasing reimbursement rates for maternity care through the state Medicaid program to ensure that pregnant people who use Medicaid for their health insurance can get critical care.
  • Increasing funds for outreach and enrollment assistance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • Establishing funding for an equity expert to advance equity in state programs.
  • Equalizing funding for public Charter School Institute (CSI) schools that do not receive mill override revenues from their local school districts.
  • Advocating for innovative, bipartisan budget solutions to address the unintended consequences of the Gallagher Amendment, which has steadily forced automatic and permanent cuts to revenue for critical services, increased pressure on the state budget and made preK-12 revenue unsustainable in the long-term.
  • Support the 2020 U.S. Census communications and outreach to ensure every resident is counted, especially historically undercounted groups such as children under 5 and people of color.

 Impacts

New Progress

  • Full-day kindergarten: HB19-1262 (Wilson & McLachlan/Bridges & Fields) provides funding for full-day kindergarten for any Colorado family that chooses it.
  • Preschool expansion: HB19-1262 also increases access to the Colorado Preschool Program by more than 5,200 slots, the single largest year-over-year expansion of preschool in the history of the state.
  • 2020 Census outreach grants:  HB19-1239 (Tipper & Caraveo/Winter & Priola) creates the Census Outreach Grant Program to support an accurate count of all Coloradans in the 2020 Census.
  • Early childhood educator tax credit:  HB19-1005 (Buckner & Wilson/Todd & Priola) establishes a new tax credit, tied to credential level, for early childhood educators working at qualified home and center-based programs.
  • CHP+ dental benefits for pregnant individuals: HB19-1038 (Duran & Lontine/Ginal & Story) will provide dental insurance for the 900 pregnant Coloradans who use Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) for their health insurance each year.
  • Eliminate co-pay for high school lunches: HB19-1171 (Michaelson Jenet/Fields & Priola) eliminates the lunch co-pay for high school students eligible for reduced-price lunch. With this change Colorado no longer charges reduced-price lunch copays in public schools.
  • Family and infant child care action plan: SB19-063 (Priola & Story/Buentello & A. Valdez) requires state leaders to develop a plan to address declining availability of infant care and family child care homes in Colorado.
  • Maternal Mortality Review Committee: HB19-1122 (Buckner & Landgraf/Fields & Gardner) funds, authorizes, diversifies and bolsters the panel of experts who examine maternal deaths in Colorado and provides recommendations to the legislature on how to prevent maternal deaths and other adverse maternal outcomes.
  • Early childhood school removal: HB19-1194 (Lontine & Larson/Fields & Priola) reduces unnecessary out-of-school suspension and expulsion of young children from school.
  • Local School District Accountability: SB19-204 (Story & Arndt/Bird) creates grants to support innovative local accountability systems that supplement and inform the state accountability system.
  • Substance use disorder prevention: SB19-228 (Winter & Moreno/Buentello & Singer) creates pilot programs to prevent and treat substance use disorders and mental health conditions among pregnant and postpartum individuals.
  • Early childhood development special districts:  HB19-1052 (McCluskie & Rich/Bridges & Rankin) will allow local communities to collaborate to establish special districts to provide early childhood education, health, and family support services.
  • Educator loan forgiveness:  SB19-003 (Zenzinger & Coram/McLachlan & Wilson) expands and funds a loan forgiveness program for teachers serving in hard-to-fill positions due to geography or content area.

Protecting Progress

  • Teacher evaluations: SB19-247 (Story/Arndt & Bird), if not defeated, would have reduced the percentage of educator evaluations associated with objective student achievement data from 50 percent to 30 percent without a clear rationale for the change.
  • Health and safety standards for school-based child care:  SB19-104 (Holbert & Foote/Baisley & Gray), if not amended, would have undermined standards for health and safety for children receiving care at school-based sites.

Missed Opportunities

  • Taxpayer equality: Members of the Joint Budget Committee discussed proposals to fix Colorado’s uneven property tax system and improve the adequacy of K-12 funding. This included equalizing property tax rates for education by creating a level system of taxation, and equalizing school districts’ ability to raise funds through mill levy overrides. Unfortunately, the proposals were not introduced this year, although the JBC directed committee staff to explore the ideas further before the next session.
  • Gallagher solution: Legislators did not advance any bills to repeal and replace the Gallagher Amendment despite the recommendations of an interim legislative committee. Gallagher is a constitutional trigger that has led to automatic property tax cuts that have limited the revenue for K-12 education and other priorities.
  • Child Tax Credit:  HB19-1164 (Singer/Zenzinger & Priola) would have funded our state Child Tax Credit targeted to families with children under the age of 6 and struggling to make ends meet.
  • Immunizations:  HB19-1312 (Mullica/Gonzales & Priola) would have preserved both personal belief and religious exemptions while requiring parents taking non-medical exemptions to submit these forms to a public health agency.
  • Nicotine & tobacco tax referred measure:  HB19-1333 (Caraveo/Fields) would have asked voters to increase taxes for tobacco and nicotine (including vaping) to fund health care access and affordability, behavioral health, out-of-school learning, and preschool.