Bill to reimburse Colorado teachers gains momentum

Suzie Glassman

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) When it comes to putting personal touches inside a classroom or making up for a deficit in essential supplies, teachers are often forced to pay out of pocket to get what they need.

A new bill hopes to ease teachers' burden by providing up to $1,000 in state income tax credit for full-time licensed public school teachers and $500 for those who work half an academic year.

Driven by teacher enthusiasm, the measure has gained momentum in the legislature despite what bill co-sponsor Robert Marshall said was a “lukewarm reception from the education establishment.”

Opponents are wary of tax credits in general, and some public education advocates are more focused on paying down the debt owed by the state to school districts based on the negative impact of the budget stabilization factor.

“It is not meant to be a home run solution or stop-gap for our teacher compensation issues in Colorado which still need to be addressed within the context of TABOR (the state’s tax laws),” said Marshall.

“But it’s a nice base hit to address an issue that has knowingly existed for decades – teachers paying out of pocket to perform their duties without being reimbursed.”

Eligible expenses include professional development costs, supplemental educational materials, field trips, and other items that improve the quality of their educational services.

Marshall, a Democrat elected in traditionally conservative Douglas County, said the bill has support from the DougCo commissioners and DougCo school district.

He also said the state’s most prominent teachers’ unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the Colorado Education Association, had expressed their support.

Lucy Squires, president of the Douglas County Federation (DCF) and long-time DougCo elementary school teacher, told the Colorado Sun she supports the legislation “so that personal funds she would otherwise divert to her classroom and profession can go toward her family instead.”

“If you put your money with the people,” Squire said, “won’t you have a better impact?”

The bill is scheduled for its first hearing in the House Education committee Wednesday, March 23.

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I'm a reporter covering the Douglas County School District in Colorado.

Denver, CO

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