Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Senate Approves Bill Discouraging School District "Re-Brucing"

The Senate approved Tuesday a bill that would discourage voters that have previously exempted their local school districts from Taxpayer Bill of Rights revenue limits from reimposing those limits.

SB 291 would prevent "re-Bruced" districts from replacing revenue lost by the TABOR caps with state funding.

Several school districts around the state are considering subjecting themselves yet again to revenue limits, despite prior decisions by voters in their boundaries to waive them.

Among the arguments made in support of that idea is a claim that voters' choices to "de-Bruce" were not meant to freeze mill levies at current levels, as a 2007 bill enacted by the General Assembly and upheld against a TABOR challenge by the state supreme court earlier this year requires.

But Democrats, including Gov. Bill Ritter and Senate Education Chairman Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, argue that "re-Brucing" would allow districts to shift responsibility for financing local schools to the state.

SB 291 gained final clearance on a party-line vote, but not without some drama in the final stages of the process.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, staged a one-man, three-hour filibuster against the measure when it came before the chamber on second-reading.

He read state statutes, quoted from supreme court decisions, and otherwise talked in an effort to delay consideration of the bill.

On Tuesday Mitchell made only a short, seven-sentence statement, accentuated by a humorous reference to his filibuster, before SB 291 went to a final vote in the Senate.