Education funding highlighted at forum

Sarah Van Cleve
Posted 10/11/12

Candidates for the Colorado House of Representatives seat in District 29 agreed voter ID should not be required, but differed on their views about …

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Education funding highlighted at forum


Candidates for the Colorado House of Representatives seat in District 29 agreed voter ID should not be required, but differed on their views about education funding.

During a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County Oct. 4 at Arvada City Hall, candidates from the three Arvada races, House Districts 27 and 29 and Senate District 19, as well as candidates from House District 24 answered questions prepared by the League. House District 24 covers Golden and Wheat Ridge.

District 29 was the only Arvada race where more than one candidate participated — Democratic Tracy Kraft-Tharp and Libertarian Hans Romer were present.

State Rep. Robert Ramirez, the Republican incumbent for District 29, reportedly did not respond to the League of Women Voters’ invitation.

Kraft-Tharp and Romer answered questions about voter IDs, the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment, budget, funding education and hydraulic fracturing.

Each candidate was given one minute to respond to the questions.

Moderator Wendy Brockman, with KATV Channel 8, asked the candidates what three government services they would protect and what three services they would cut.

“In the latest revenue forecast, this last September, we are in fact on a very slow but stable economic recovery,” Kraft-Tharp said. “I know you want three services I would cut and three I would protect, but I would argue that we can stimulate this economy so that we can protect especially our vulnerable services for our mental health, and developmentally disabled populations.”

Kraft-Tharp said the best way to stimulate the economy would be through creating jobs and reducing barriers.

Her opponent Romer said he supports stimulating the economy, but through a different approach — reducing taxation.

“It’s going to be very difficult for me to say there are any three I would protect,” he said. “I think pretty much government doesn’t have any place in business. Reducing the amount of taxation on corporations would reduce the taxation on the people and would give them more spending money to spend, which would then in turn make our economy thrive.”

Romer said he does not see any aspects of society in which government needs to be involved, with an emphasis on the “need.”

“There should obviously be police, fire, those necessities, street maintenance, those necessities that we have to have until we can make a transition over to a more free society where individual companies can go in and apply for these contracts that right now the cities hold,” he said.

The candidates also discussed education funding.

Over the past few years, Jeffco Public Schools has seen a reduction of $60 million in funding, Kraft-Tharp said, and that has taken its toll on the classrooms.

“As our economy improves and we are seeing the increase in revenues, we need to see that the cuts to education are not an increase in cuts and we need to prioritize our funding levels back to our educational system,” she said.

She said residents also need to look at their local initiatives, such as 3A and 3B.

“Our local school board has a ballot initiative in which our local voters can identify the needs in our local community and be able to make that decision — whether our educational resources are worth a dime a day,” she said.

Romer said an approach he’s seen done in private sector schooling could work in the public sector.

“I think it is possible to reduce the amount of top-end heavy administrative sections of public schooling … and allow that money to trickle down to the teachers as opposed to it being at the top-end and reduce the amount of money needed by these school districts,” he said.

While the candidates have different approaches on some issues, they did agree on others, such as not requiring people to have voter IDs.

Of the three candidates vying for the House District 27 seat, only Tim Allport was in attendance and was allowed three-and-a-half minutes to speak on the issues.

His opponents, Republican incumbent Libby Szabo and Libertarian G.T. “Bud” Martin did not attend. Szabo was unable to attend was because of a family emergency, Brockman said.

Brockman read a statement by Martin that said he felt “participating would be a violation of accepting a campaign contribution, and has pledged to accept no contributions, even from himself; he also disagreed with the ground rules of prohibiting a stand-in speaking for a candidate.” The candidates were not paid to participate in the forum.

Incumbent Sen. Evie Hudak, D-District 19, was the only candidate for that race that attended the forum.

Republican candidate Lang Sias was unable to attend due to a previous commitment, and Lloyd Sweeny was unavailable to participate due to work, Brockman said.


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