Shandra Jordan – editor in chief
Patrick Crossland – state and regional editor
J.J. Babb – design managing editor
For many people, the word “TABOR” makes them want to run away
screaming in the opposite direction. But that’s a big part of the
problem. This Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has many problems for
higher education and other industries that people simply don’t or
don’t want to see.
TABOR basically deals with a spending cap on the General Fund,
which provides money for a variety of Colorado industries and
institutions, including K-12 schools, Medicaid, correctional
facilities, higher education and more. The difference between K-12,
Medicaid and correctional facilities and higher education is the
former three are all constitutionally (in Colorado that is)
mandated expenditures, while higher education has no such
Further, higher education is virtually forbidden from providing
for itself because TABOR classifies tuition increases as state
revenue and thus tuition cannot be increased under TABOR.
Inevitably, the question is: why? Why isn’t higher education
valued enough to be protected with a constitutional mandate to
guarantee it enough money? And if the state doesn’t want a
mandatory protection, why can’t our university administrators be
trusted enough to responsibly raise tuition? Sure, nobody wants to
pay more, but wouldn’t it be better than spending another year (or
more) in college because the university doesn’t have enough money
to offer enough sections of your capstone?
The sad fact is the General Fund makes up 85 percent of our
budget. There’s no need to point out that that’s no small number.
Such a great proportion of our budget can’t be made up through
donations and grants, unless Bill Gates is looking to invest in a
land-grant university. And even if he does, what about the
University of Colorado-Boulder? Sure, we like to beat them at the
game, but when it comes down to it, all people who have chosen the
path of higher education need to be given the best shot they can at
it. The ability to go to college isn’t given everywhere, and the
state should recognize that higher education is a valued, important
system. It we let it fall apart, all the best students will move
out of state after high school and our industries will begin to
lack people with the proper training.
The moral is, this isn’t something you can sit back, whine about
and then go back to reruns of “Friends.” The only way TABOR can be
changed is through the voters, and it’s going to have to start
somewhere. How about you?