Gov. Jared Polis unveils plan to pay for full-day kindergarten

Anna Staver

THE DENVER POST

Gov. Jared Polis wants to use a windfall announced well after the election to pay for one of his major campaign promises: full-day kindergarten.

His proposals for the upcoming state budget, announced Tuesday, include up to $227 million for school districts that implement free, all-day kindergarten.

“We can leverage our state’s improved economy to benefit our schools without sacrificing other budget priorities,” Polis wrote in a letter to the Joint Budget Committee.

State economists forecast in December that the state will get to keep $274 million more than expected in its 2019-20 budget. That’s because local governments are going to collect more money than previously projected, requiring less backfill from the state, Colorado Budget Director Lauren Larson said during a media briefing Tuesday.

The request to spend 80 percent of those new state dollars on kindergarten was met with skepticism Tuesday from two Democratic lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee but received a warmer reception from a Republican JBC member, proving a point Polis made in last week’s State of the State address: “If all this that we are talking about were easy, it would have been done already.”

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