Lawmakers agree to bolster threat training

By Christopher Osher

THE COLORADO SUN

Lawmakers on Wednesday rejected Gov. Jared Polis’ request that they free up $3 million to hire more mental health professionals in schools, but agreed to spend $407,000 extra on training school administrators on how to conduct threat assessments.

The Polis administration said in budget requests that the money was needed for both training and more mental health spending in the wake of the fatal shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Polis wanted to use marijuana sales tax revenue to help schools hire more mental health professionals. He pointed out to lawmakers in charge of writing the budget that Colorado is not meeting recommended staffing ratios for school counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers.

But the disclosure that marijuana tax revenue in March lagged projections left members of the powerful Joint Budget Committee struggling to justify the governor’s request.

“I like the policy,” said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, a Democrat from Arvada. “I like the proposal. I think it is warranted. I think it would be appropriate, but if we don’t have the money, we don’t have it.”

The requests from the governor were his first policy responses following the May 7 shooting at the STEM School that resulted in the death of one student and injuries to eight others. Two students have been charged in the attack.

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