Gov. Bill Owens does not want to place the burden of state
budget cuts on college students’ backs.
Dan Hopkins, Owens’ spokesperson, said Owens absolutely would
not support the 40-percent tuition increase proposed by the Joint
Budget Committee staff. The committee has not adopted the
“The goal should be to encourage more people to go to college,”
Hopkins said. “A 40-percent tuition increase would discourage some
people from going to college and make it impossible for
The JBC staff recommended a nearly $100 million cut to higher
education on Tuesday to help ease the state budget crisis. If the
proposal is accepted by the six members of the JBC, in-state CSU
students may see a tuition increase of up to 40 percent.
“In the past, we have used cash funds from tuition to help
soften cuts on higher education,” said Sen. Peggy Reeves, D-Larimer
County, a member of the JBC.
Owens is in favor of securitization, the process of securing
funds owed to the state from a federal lawsuit against the tobacco
companies. This would bring in almost $1 billion to the state. Each
state has the option of receiving money from tobacco settlements in
a large lump sum or in annual installments, Hopkins said.
“You wouldn’t need to use all of it for higher education this
year, but you could certainly use a portion, which means you
wouldn’t have to have dire cuts and you wouldn’t have to have dire
increases,” Hopkins said. “It’s a practical solution.”
Members of the JBC disagree.
“All that money you (get) from selling the tobacco revenue (will
be) used up in a few years,” said Rep. Tom Plant, D-Boulder, Clear
Creek, Gilpin counties. “Fiscally it’s probably not the most
logical thing to do.”
Reeves said using one-time funds could have consequences,
although she was not talking specifically about tobacco
“If we do one-time funds without some constitutional changes
that voters would approve, some pretty significant cuts would be
coming in the future,” Reeves said.
Gerard Bomotti, vice president for Administrative Services at
CSU, is hoping that Colorado voters will take Reeves’ admonition
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, limits the flexibility
of the state’s budget by requiring the state to give refunds on any
revenue it receives. Under TABOR, tuition is classified as revenue.
The bill also mandates spending for K-12 education, Medicare and
other areas before funding higher education.
“If (voters) don’t address funding problems with the state’s
constitution, funding for higher education will go to about zero,”
Bomotti said. “It’s inevitable.”
Owens sees tobacco securitization as the top option available
“It’s the most practical solution that’s on the table,” Hopkins
said. “What they’ve got on the table right now is unnecessary and