DENVER (CBS4)– Gov.-elect Jared Polis’ promise of full-day kindergarten for all in his first year in office may not be a done deal at the state Capitol. The subject was noticeably missing from opening day speeches.
Some members of the powerful Joint Budget Committee are questioning where the money will come from.
“That’s a goal that we all share,” said Joint Budget Committee Chair Dominick Moreno. “The question is just how we get there. The latest estimate I saw, it’s about $230 million to fully implement it in the first year. That’s quite an impact to the state budget and so we have to figure out where do we come up with that money.”
Moreno said they already need an additional $100 million for Medicaid. And while the state has $1 billion more to spend this year, Republican Rep. and Joint Budget Committee member Bob Rankin said most of that money is already earmarked.
“Except for about $200 million, which is new. And maybe that’s the kindergarten money,” said Rankin.
But, he says transportation needs are also competing for that money.
Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, a teacher, said the state isn’t even meeting its constitutional obligations for K-12 education as it is.
”We also are not fully funding special education, so I do know that’s a priority for districts. I think we need to think about our teacher shortage and do we have the educators to teach these classes?” asked Zenzinger.
Moreno said they also need to make sure they have the money, not just this year, but into the future.
“It’s not like just because we have a good year this year that we can do full day kindergarten and not worry about those future year impacts. And so that’s something we’re having a discussion with the Governor’s office about is how we can do this in a sustainable way?”