What about all that marijuana money?

Although it may seem that there’s a pot shop on every corner, the reality is that the marijuana tax doesn’t generate nearly enough income to solve Colorado’s education funding problems. In fact, income from the marijuana tax doesn’t even make up for losses caused in state education funding in the past decade.

In 2017-18, the total marijuana tax revenue was $90.3 million. While that sounds like a lot of money, that $90 million only made up about 1.6 percent of the state’s $5.6 billion K-12 budget.

Marijuana tax dollars and K-12 budget

During the same 2017-18 year, Colorado state legislators used a tool called the Budget Stabilization Factor (BSF) or “negative factor” to withhold $672.4 million from Colorado schools. Money from the marijuana tax wouldn’t even come close to making up the difference.

Marijuana taxes vs Budget Stabilization Factor

That’s not to say that the marijuana tax isn’t helping schools. Here’s how marijuana taxes were allocated statewide in 2017-18 across Colorado’s 178 school districts:

  • Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) - $40 million
    • Funds can only be used to build new schools or renovate existing ones. Grants require school districts to provide matching funds. BEST is also partly funded from spillover from the Colorado Lottery and the Colorado State Land Board.
  • Early Literacy Competitive Grant Program - $4.4 million
    • Jeffco Schools was awarded a grant of more than $500,000 over three years to address literacy instruction at Clayton Elementary in Englewood.
  • School Health Professionals Grant Program - $11.9 million
    • In 2017, Jeffco Schools received an $825,164 grant annually for three years to hire three school nurses and six social-emotional learning specialists (SELS). The grant seeks to prevent substance abuse by educating students about substance abuse. The SELS work at 14 elementary schools in communities closest to areas that sell marijuana.
  • School Bullying Prevention and Education Grant Program (BPEG) - $2 million
  • Drop-out Prevention Programs - $2 million
    • In 2016, Jeffco won a three-year, $607,447 grant from the Student Re-engagement fund to provide mentoring, social-emotional strategies, case management and credit recovery for students in five schools in the district.
  • State Public School Fund - $30 million

Although Colorado students overall benefit from the marijuana tax dollars, there just aren’t enough to fix the larger funding shortfalls.

With a mill levy override and a bond package, Jeffco can do more for our students.

  • A mill levy override will allow Jeffco Schools to add additional mental health counselors and suicide prevention support for our students, to expand career and technical programming, and to compete with neighboring school districts to keep the best teachers here.
  • A bond package will make it possible for Jeffco to update aging facilities, address capital maintenance, and make it possible for the district to continue maintaining the investment made by earlier generations of Jeffco voters.