Apr 162006
Authors: James Baetke

Four state legislators met with CSU student senators and staff Friday to discuss issues of higher education, while all four also gave their endorsements for Colorado gubernatorial candidates.

Much of the dialogue dealt with issues surrounding Referendum C, a measure pushed long and hard by Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, before its eventual approval by voters last December.

“You really kicked butt on the campus here for Referendum C,” Johnson said to the group of almost 20 people, mostly all linked with the Associated Students of CSU.

Much of the legislative session this year has run smoothly, Johnson said, thanks to the passage of Referendum C, which gives lawmakers wiggle room to spend money and repair cuts made last year – a Band-Aid of sorts.

Referendum C is allowing Colorado legislators to spend billions of dollars that would otherwise go back, in part, to taxpayers in a refund and eliminate state spending limits over five years.

Rep. Bob McCluskey, R-Fort Collins, Sen. Bob Bacon, R-Fort Collins, and Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, were also part of the discussion.

High tuition costs, crumbling buildings on Colorado campuses and state-worker retirement programs were also hashed out.

Bacon said the state needs to invest more wisely in higher education in order to protect the economic and social structure of Colorado for the future.

“Even though we are doing better, we have not fully addressed higher education in our state,” Bacon said.

McCluskey brought up the popular debate on immigration kidding, in part, that maybe Congress should look at Colorado for help, considering the state has passed three bills dealing with immigration.

“Most people would agree we need to do something about immigration,” McCluskey said.

Johnson and McCluskey announced they were both in support of candidate Bob Beauprez, currently a Republican Congressman working for the Seventh Congressional District.

“I’ve endorsed Bob Beauprez. His roots in Colorado as a small businessman will help him,” Johnson said.

Beauprez grew up on a dairy farm in Lafayette, Colo.

Paccione and Bacon are backing Former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter because of his support for higher education – something close to Bacon, who is the chairman for the Senate education committee – and Ritter’s backing of an emergency contraceptive bill – an important factor in Paccione’s endorsement.

Ritter has undergraduate ties to CSU.

James Baetke can be reached at regional@collegian.com

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