Background: Colorado ranks near the bottom in terms of teacher pay and per-student funding and the current state budget crisis is only making the situation worse. Colorado lawmakers will underfund education by $1 billion in the 2020-21 fiscal year, compared to the constitutional requirement for classroom spending.
Invest more money in teachers and schools
A: As governor during the Great Recession, Hickenlooper’s first budget proposal called for a $332 million cut, or $497 per student, to Colorado schools. At the time, he stated, “There’s nothing I’ve ever grappled with as long and hard as that.” Hickenlooper later vowed to help push for the state to pay back about $1 billion borrowed from education during the recession but never signed a budget to fully fund education.
Looking ahead, he said he supports putting more money into classrooms but did not provide specific policy proposals. He said he would push for allowing public school staff to organize in unions and support an education secretary who is a “strong advocate for public schools.”
Background: Student debt is emerging as a bigger problem in Colorado than other states. About 734,000 Colorado borrowers are paying off student loans, totaling $26 billion, a 2019 study found. The amount of student loan debt increased 176% in a 10-year span that ended in 2017.
Supports tax break to encourage loan repayment
A: Gardner introduced legislation that would allow employers to make up to $10,000 a year in tax-free contributions to their workers’ student debt payments, an effort the Colorado Republican says he hopes will spur more job growth and retirement savings.
Supports cutting the federal interest rate on student loans
A: In order to relieve student loan debt, Hickenlooper supports cutting the federal interest rate on student loans to 2.5% or lower, and making community college free for those who can’t afford it. He also favors expanding federal aid. His campaign platform proposes allowing college students to work off their debt through jobs in public service.