It happens every time. The blonde in the high heels is running
away from the villain and instead of escaping out the front door
she runs upstairs, trapping herself while the audience members
shake their heads ponderously and ask “why?”
This November, voters may be asking the same question when
legislators give them the choice of deciding whether or not they
want to eliminate state funding for Colorado universities and
If you thought an 11 percent increase in tuition this year was
bad, if this happens, prepare to pay double or even triple in
tuition. If passed, the next amount due in your tuition bill could
be $3,744 or a staggering $5,616 for in-state students.
The proposed legislation is devised not save the state from
drowning in its pool of budget problems, but to merely throw it a
life preserver to keep it afloat for the time being. For the third
year in a row, the Joint Budget Committee is faced with the task of
cutting government agencies, program and funding – including higher
education – to the tune of $150 million. Sen. Ron Teck, R-Garfield
and Mesa counties, wants to eliminate higher ed funding to help
eliminate the state’s projected $450 million deficit.
It might not seem like it, but it’s either cut and/or eliminate
funding for us or cut Medicaid funding – including prescription
drug coverage and nursing home subsidies, according to a Sunday
Denver Post article.
This makes either Teck or the JBC look like the villain.
The villain isn’t Teck or the JBC or even Gov. Bill Owens. The
big, bad monster in this budget horror flick is the Taxpayer’s Bill
of Rights. A bill aimed at capping state expenditures and giving
taxpayers refunds when the state had a surplus has now hamstrung
Colorado. TABOR has become the Frankenstein’s monster for Colorado
And like all bad horror flicks, the sequels are always worse.
Colorado’s higher education system has lost $179 million since the
2001-02 fiscal year. This year, higher ed institutions will have to
share $591 million, down from $770.
If it was between me getting a quality education or cutting
grandma’s prescription plan – of course I would choose the latter,
but this bill makes it seem that those are the only two
This solution is a lose-lose. If voters decide to cut higher ed,
they might as well as start painting the closed signs they are
going to have to put on CSU’s front door. The resolution to the
state’s budget nightmare is not cutting higher ed or cutting
grandma’s Medicaid coverage – it’s killing TABOR. Instead of
running upstairs and trapping itself, Colorado needs to kick TABOR
squarely between the legs and head for the front door. When voters
approved TABOR in 1992, do you think they intended to kill high ed
or abandon grandma in the cold? Should we have to pay for TABOR’s
It is painfully obvious that TABOR has caused more damage than
good and that it needs to be removed from the state constitution or
be redefined so that lawmakers do not have to make a decision
between turning off grandma’s heat or killing higher ed. Only then
can we escape TABOR’s grasp.
Chris is the opinion editor for The Collegian. He is a senior
majoring in history and journalism.