Colorado Senate Democrats Flee from True School Financial Transparency

Last night I told you about the inspiring testimony of citizens in support of financial transparency for Colorado schools. Today, it was the legislators’ turn to do the damage. And damage they did:

Senator Bob Bacon introduced an amendment that establishes a “voluntary pilot program” for transparency. It passed and is now on its way to the full floor of the Senate. Senator [Ted] Harvey asked to open up the bill for additional testimony since it had been altered dramatically. Bacon, chair of the committee, said no. Senator Harvey also tried to kill his own bill. Harvey did say he would bring the bill back next year.

Bacon, a former educator, used words like “cruel” and “fear” to describe how school districts may respond to financial transparency. Fear is only present when there is something to hide.

Bacon also stated that he is concerned that school districts may not have the personnel to implement transparency online in a searchable format. If that’s the case, then perhaps the school districts can ask one of their students because I promise you, students know how. It does make me wonder who should be doing the teaching.

With the laudable exception of Senate President Peter Groff, the four committee Democrats – in addition to Bacon, Evie Hudak, Rollie Heath, and Chris Romer – decided to run away from real transparency. Though at least Romer acknowledged “this is a trend that won’t stop” and that eventually “you will win”.

And now the obligatory quote from the bill sponsor:

“The intent of this bill was to have true transparency,” [Senator Ted] Harvey said. “But now, there is no assurance that taxpayers will be able to know where and how their money is being spent.”

Experiencing only a setback, transparency advocates – a swelling grassroots army – march forward.

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