Dec 112005
 
Authors: Skylar Rick

The balloons and confetti thrown in celebration of the passing of Referendum C have long been swept up with only a lingering thought hanging in the vacant space – what now?

Referendum C passed with the promise of helping education, along with transportation and health care, and now it is up to the Joint Budget Committee to make sure the right funds are designated to the right places.

"The Joint Budget Committe is made up of three people from the House and three from the Senate [from the Colorado Congress]," said Kirsten Osgood , director of public affairs for the Capstone Group, a government relations firm. "They decide what different programs and priorities get funding."

Most students who voted in favor of the referendum did so because of the promise to slow down tuition increases, which is part of the proposal right now.

"Both the governer and the Colorado Commission for Higher Education (CCHE) are proposing to cap increasing tuition by 2.5 percent each year," Osgood said.

If this proposal is successful, this will make a huge difference on how much students pay each semester.

"It doesn't stick it to the students for CSU to make ends meet," said Alec Jeffries, director of legislative affairs for the Associated Students of CSU . "It ties the hands of the university and is good for students in the long run. The increase was 15 percent last year, so 2.5 percent is incredibly low."

Another help students will see in the fall semester if the proposals are approved is an increase in the College Opportunity Fund, which is split into the stipend and the fee for service.

"There is a proposal to increase the stipend from $2,400 to $2,580," Osgood said. "There could also be an increase in the fee for service contracts, which was created so higher education functions like professional and graduate education do not come out of the stipend."

The last part of the higher education proposal is to increase the amount for finacial aid.

"The governor is proposing a six percent increase, and the CCHE is proposing another 4.1 percent on top of that, which will go down to loan programs," Osgood said.

 

The committee will discuss the funds until April when the General Assembly will vote.

If all proposals of higher education pass, they should be available by the fall semester.

How the money will be split among the colleges will come through various ways.

"The money for CSU goes to the College Opportunity Fund, but there are many different university requirements to the CCHE to receive the funds," Jeffries said. "They range from needs to lobbying down at the capitol."

Unfortunately, a threat to higher education came in the form of Gov. Bill Owens' proposal requesting the majority of the money to go to transportation.

"The governor wants around $80 million of the $94 million available [a year] to go to transportation because Referendum D didn't pass," Jeffries said. "But there are enough people fighting for a reasonable amount to go to higher education because that was the intention of Referendum C in the first place."

The failure of Referendum D caused some conflict because of its connection to Referendum C. The plan was to have $100 million from Referendum C be spent each year to pay back the bonds of Referendum D, and now its unclear as to what will happen to that extra money.

"Its obviously not going to Referendum D, so its my assumption that it will be split up by the legislation, but it is still up in the air," Jeffries said.

What is certain is the relief of the student body if the proposals are passed.

"It is going to be great for students to be able to focus on their grades during the semester, not how they will be paying for the next term," said Bret Preston, freshman business finance major .

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