Oct 202004

As CSU students get ready to vote in November (many for the

first time), attention is mostly focused on the race for President.

But other contests further down the ballot are also important and

warrant your serious consideration. In particular, with the

Colorado House and Senate fairly evenly divided between Democrats

and Republicans, your votes for state representative and state

Senator will help determine which party controls the statehouse and

writes the state budget for the next two to four years. That in

turn will make a big difference in higher education funding-and in

the quality of the education you receive at CSU.

As CSU President Penley recently stated, several years of cuts

in state funding-millions of dollars in cuts-have left our

university’s finances in a dangerous state (Coloradoan article,

Sept. 15, 2004). Because CSU runs a pretty tight ship, cuts in

funding must be made up in reduced services, increased tuition, or

some combination of the two. We are already seeing this at our

university. Faculty members are retiring and their positions are

not being refilled. Classes are harder to get into and they are

often larger when you do get into them. The CSU Board of Governors

recently proposed a 21 precent increase in tuition to make up for

state funding shortfalls.

The economic outlook for CSU is poor, not because people don’t

want a quality and affordable higher education. More and better

students are applying to CSU than ever before. The

problem is that funding higher education is a low priority of

our Republican governor and Republican State legislature. They have

drastically cut state funding for higher ed, and we are told that

more cuts are in store.

The numbers tell the story. Democrats lost control of the state

senate in 2002, leaving Republicans in complete control of the

state budget. Between fiscal years ’02 and ’04, state tax funds

earmarked for higher education declined 21.8 percent in Colorado.

This was the second steepest decline among all 50 US states during

that time period (data in this piece are from Illinois State

University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy, “Annual

Compilation of Data on State Tax Appropriations”).

After years of anemic support, Colorado now ranks 47th among the

states in per capita appropriations for higher education.

Incredibly, Mississippians spend over twice as much as Coloradoans,

per person, to support their public universities.

Some of this can be laid at the door of the Taxpayers Bill of

Rights (TABOR)-but not all. Some rests directly on the shoulders of

our Republican legislators and governor. Between FY03 and FY04,

Colorado’s general revenues increased 4.3 percent. Due partly to

TABOR , state expenditures during that time decreased by 4.5

percent, but appropriations for higher education decreased by 13.7


That huge decrease in funding shows just how low a priority our

governor and Republican legislators place on higher education,

compared to building roads or prisons. They could have allocated

more money to higher education; no other major area of state

funding was cut so drastically. And of course, we have known TABOR

was death to higher education funding for years. The same governor

and legislators who hide behind TABOR while cutting higher

education, have killed all measures to amend it in the upcoming


When Penley visits the state legislature he must ask for

bipartisan support for higher education. The record is clear:

Republicans do not support higher education in Colorado. Democrats

do. With no gubernatorial race this year, unless Democrats take one

or both houses of the state legislature, there will be no strong

advocacy for higher education down in Denver for at least the next

two years. The cuts will continue.

Before you vote for a Republican in any upcoming state house or

senate race, remember that you are also voting to cut higher

education funding for the next two to four years in Colorado. Those

cuts will translate directly into higher tuition and fees, and

fewer and larger classes, for you and your fellow students.

Philip Cafaro, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Ruth Alexander, Professor of History

Eric Aoki, Associate Professor of Speech Communication

William Bertschy, Director, Pingree Park Campus

Ellen Brinks, Associate Professor of English

Carol Cantrell, Professor of English

Mark Easter, Research Associate, CSU Natural Resource Ecology


David Jones, Ecologist , CSU Center for Environmental Management

of Military Lands

Robert Jordan, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Boris Kondratieff, Professor of Bioagricultural Sciences and

Pest Management

David Lindstrom, Associate Professor of English

Dan Lyons, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy

James Maffie, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Norberto Valdez, Associate Professor Anthropology

Irene Vernon, Associate Professor, Center for Applied Studies in

American Ethnicity

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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