Aug 312005
Authors: Caroline Welch

Associated Students of CSU senators voted Wednesday to endorse Referendums C and D, the TABOR issues that will be voted on Nov. 1.

The resolution, number 3,502, states that ASCSU senators will encourage their constituents to vote yes on the referendums.

"The senate worked hard," said ASCSU president Courtney Healey. "I'm glad to see they got it out in a timely manner, so it can have an effect."

The senate deliberated for two hours over issues in the bill, including the benefits and costs of the referendums and whether or not to include private universities, and online colleges.

ASCSU president Courtney Healey told senators that, according to a Board of Governors meeting, students could expect at least a 32 percent increase in one year, if the referendums do not pass. She also said that the Joint Budget Committee will cut $400 million from the state budget, and that higher education is the only expendable.

"Our job is to notify students of pressing issues of the university if their education is in jeopardy," Healey said.

The Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) mandated a rebate to Colorado taxpayers over the next five years, and a spending limit, which Referendum C will essentially undo. The money gained, which is estimated at $3,000 over five years, will be distributed to other programs.

Thirty percent will be allocated to roads, 30 percent to K-12 education, 30 percent to higher education and 10 percent to fund Referendum D, which will give money to roads and K-12 education, said Luke O'Dell, a representative from "Vote Yes on C and D."

There are many reasons to pass this bill, O'Dell said, including the substantial influence they will have on funding for higher education, and avoiding an increase in taxes.

"We are in a financial crisis," O'Dell said, "If C and D do not pass, we will have a tax increase on the 2006 ballot to fund programs because we are in a financial crisis."

However, some members of the senate, although they agreed with the referendums, said it was not their duty to endorse Referendums C and D.

"This resolution puts us on dangerous ground," said applied human science senator Darcy McNew. "It is not our place to tell students how to vote. It is our place to educate students. We are over-stepping our boundaries."

Senator Erik Healey compared this referendum to legislation on the three-unrelated law.

"We aren't telling students how to vote," Erik Healey said. "We are just encouraging them to vote, like in the three unrelated laws."

The resolution also states that copies of the resolution be sent to all higher education institutions with campuses in Colorado to set an example for other schools to endorse the referendums as well.

"We want to set a strong example and be on the cutting edge and push the importance of these referendums," said Alec Jefferies, legislative affairs director. "It is important to send a clear and concise message that we support the referendums."

The senate voted to include private Colorado colleges and universities in the mailing because, although they do not receive state funding, they do benefit from Pell Grants, which are also affected by the referendums.

"The more people this goes to, the better chance we have [of passing the referendums]," said liberal arts senator Bryan Battiste.

Opponents of the referendums say they are a tax increase and will take money away from working families, referring to the withholding of TABOR's mandated refunds.

"There are always going to be negative repercussions," said Erick Healey. "But in this case, the benefits seriously out-weigh the repercussions."

The bill passed 17-to-3-to-2.


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