Since Colorado’s first legal sales at the start of 2014 until the end of 2018, $160 million has gone to school construction, courtesy of the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund. But now, lawmakers are making a push to increase that number, and to expand the kinds of support schools can expect from the state’s large recreational marijuana industry.
Last year’s legislation increased the $40 million a year that Colorado sends from marijuana taxes into BEST to the 90 percent of all excise tax revenues. But with Governor Jared Polis’ legislative goal to fund full-day kindergarten, that amount may need to go higher. The funds needed to support such a program were a hot topic of discussion during state legislature budget talks last month.
Right now about 80 percent of the state’s 61,749 kindergarteners have access to full-day programs. Some programs require a monthly tuition fee from families of $300 to $400, while others have access to federal funds for economically depressed districts. Funding for the program requires a shift in budget priorities because at the moment, the state provides half the amount of funds for kindergarten age kids as compared to the resources it funnels to school districts for