Battle ignites between attorney and state over lost education funds

Zahira Torres --- The Denver Post 

A new legal battle has been launched seeking to reverse a legislative workaround that allowed the state to cut $1 billion from public education.

Attorney Kathleen Gebhardt, who previously led an eight-year effort challenging the state's system for financing schools, was among those who announced a new lawsuit Friday. The suit argues that Colorado violated a constitutional provision passed by voters, known as Amendment 23.

The amendment passed in 2000 as part of an effort to raise Colorado's education funding after it dropped below the national average. It required the state to increase its investment in education each year by at least the rate of inflation.

But in response to the economic constraints caused by the recession, lawmakers created the "negative factor," which allowed the state to provide the constitutionally mandated increases off the base funding that schools receive, rather than on the total funding that includes additional monies for at-risk students.

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