It was a nice try.
State legislators are desperately seeking ways to work around TABOR and raise tuition at state colleges so the schools can get a little extra money and ease budget constraints. One bill that was killed by the state legislature Wednesday would have used a voucher system to make state colleges an enterprise state entity, something exempt from TABOR restrictions, by giving students vouchers to attend school rather than subsidize them.
Basically, students would be given a voucher to attend a school of their choice, and the voucher would have, in effect, covered two years’ worth of education. The student would have had to make up the difference to attend a four-year school using his or her own money and/or financial aid.
Tricky concept, but it would have made state colleges exempt from the TABOR amendment. CSU President AL Yates did not support this measure, although he recognized the importance of breaking away from TABOR restrictions.
The main problem with the voucher system is that it probably would have hurt CSU. If students get the voucher, it is likely those students would choose a two-year school over a four-year university or college, because the two-year school would have been paid for entirely.
Plus, CSU’s tuition would go up as a result – as that is the entire reason to pass the bill – and many students would have another reason to ditch CSU for a cheaper school already paid for with the vouchers.
Another goal of the voucher system was to entice students who wouldn’t ordinarily go to college by handing them the voucher and saying, “pick a school.”
The editorial board opposed this measure and is glad it failed, although we would love for CSU to find a way to become exempt from TABOR.
The University of Colorado pushed a bill through the Senate Education Committee April 24. The bill will, if passed, exempt CU from TABOR.
As a land-grant school under a different governing board than CU, it might be difficult for CSU to push a bill that could exempt the school from TABOR. But it is worth a try.
Maybe the new president of CSU could make exempting the school from TABOR his first goal and first great accomplishment.