2024 Legislative Session Update: The Latest on Colorado Succeeds’ Priorities

With the 2024 legislative session at its halfway point, the Colorado Succeeds policy team is pleased to share the progress we’ve made on the three key priorities outlined in our 2024 Policy Agenda and look to the second half of the session for what’s next.

We’re gaining traction on our top priorities, but much work remains to accomplish our ambitious agenda, especially in a tight budget year.

Here’s the latest:

In Colorado, while ample programs are designed to help high school students secure college credit, industry credentials, or work-based learning opportunities, the complexity and accessibility of these programs remain challenging. House Bill 24-1364 takes two foundational steps recommended by the 1215 Task Force to set Colorado learners on a path toward economic success and mobility by accessing no-cost college credit, industry credentials, or quality work-based learning experience.

  • It creates a cost study to understand the costs and opportunities for savings to expand opportunities to college credit, industry credentials, or quality work-based learning experiences.
  • And authorizes the creation of a state-wide data system to connect and make education and workforce data accessible to learners, families, business, and decision-makers.

If passed, this bill would provide information to allow decision-makers to make informed decisions as we seek to expand opportunities for postsecondary and workforce experiences. On March 21, HB24-1364 passed unanimously out of the House Education Committee.

A recent Common Sense Institute report emphasized the significant gap between what education Coloradans have and what jobs need. It shows that if Colorado were to fill this gap, it would mean an additional $3 billion to the state’s GDP. But, perhaps more pressing are the opportunities for Colorado’s homegrown talent and businesses. In Colorado, while 95% of jobs require education beyond high school, only 30% of people in Colorado have those qualifications, which makes it harder to fill jobs, especially when there are twice as many jobs as people looking for work.

We continue to work with the business community to pass legislation designed to address workforce gaps.

HB24-1365, which passed unanimously out of the House Business and Labor Committee, alleviates workforce shortages by:

  • supporting local business intermediaries to partner with government and education institutions to create regional talent development plans and
  • establishing tax credits for organizations that invest in building additional training opportunities in the skilled trades.

Though this is our priority workforce bill, we are also supporting two other pieces of legislation that have passed their first committee. SB 24-143 and SB24-104 will make it easier for Colorado businesses, education providers, and governments to recognize non-traditional education pathways like apprenticeships.

Colorado’s education funding formula, unchanged for three decades, has not kept pace with the evolving needs of its diverse student population, particularly putting less affluent districts at a disadvantage. In its report, the state’s School Finance Task Force developed recommendations to modernize and make the funding system more equitable by orienting it around students.

We anticipate the introduction of a bill that will address the Task Force’s recommendations in a fiscally responsible way in the 2025-2026 school year. It will add more money into the system, ensuring that all districts will see an increase in funding, but more importantly, it prioritizes equity by putting the needs of disadvantaged students first and ensures that the majority of rural districts, who have unique funding needs, will see an even greater increase in funding.

The task force recommendations came from a broad coalition of stakeholders, including Colorado Succeeds, and we are working hard to ensure that all stakeholders and legislative leaders see how this bill benefits all students.

In 2022, one of Colorado Succeeds’ priorities was modernizing Colorado’s student bill of rights. While that legislation did not materialize, the conversations were impactful, and this year, Colorado Succeeds was able to connect with key legislators to support a bill that does just that. SB24-164, initiated by education committee chair Janet Buchner, will add important protections to students to the Bill of Rights, which has seen few changes since it was created more than twenty years ago.

Most importantly, those changes will make it much easier for today’s students to have credit recognized, which is important with the rise of concurrent enrollment and students coming to college having taken college courses elsewhere. This bill also creates important financial transparency for students. We look forward to seeing this bill in committee next week.

We’re looking forward to a bustling second half of the session as we focus on advancing these bills through the legislature. Keep an eye on our channels for further updates.