The landscape of school finance in Colorado paints an interesting picture of the influence of legislative initiatives on the equity of school per pupil revenue. Colorado has a convoluted history of enacting legislative initiatives designed to influence the influx and distribution of state revenue, which has created an environment in which the financial health of the state is contingent upon it’s ability to enact reductions sizable enough to balance the budget. Prior to the Great Recession, Colorado enacted a series of legislative reform initiatives that have gridlocked the state’s ability to increase revenue and adversely impacted available funding for public school education. Amendment 23 was a legislative reform initiative designed to safeguard public education. However, following the economic downturn of the early 21st century, Colorado enacted HB 10-1369, also known as the Negative Factor (or Stabilization Factor). This piece of legislation legalized a reduction of funding to Colorado school districts and at the pinnacle of reductions funneled nearly $1 billion annually away from education. This research employs a series of economic models to evaluate per pupil equity prior to and post implementation of the negative factor, and to identify predictive indicators to the degree of reductions applied through the use of the negative factor. Results indicate not only that a decrease of vertical and horizontal equity has followed the implementation of the negative factor, but that predictive indicators buried within the state funding formula are contributing to an uneven distribution of the reductions resulting in the decreased equity levels.


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pp. 96-114
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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