On Wednesday, the state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee unanimously voted to cut $300 million in higher education funding from next year’s budget, taking a swipe straight at the heart of Colorado’s college system.
But don’t worry, they have a back-up plan.
The JBC’s so-called “solution” to the mess they’re creating is to fill the massive hole with $500 million dollars from a workers’ compensation fund surplus, maintained by the private company Pinnocol.
Let’s take a step back.
If finalized, the JBC’s $300 million cut is permanent. The workers’ compensation fund serves only as a one-year solution to a long-term problem.
What happens to colleges in two years when there isn’t a $500 million dollar surplus lying around? Tuition goes up. A lot.
And that’s assuming that Pinnocol is even willing to give up the money.
Pinnocol is a private company that does not belong to the state and, according to its representatives, it has no obligation to give the state with any money. Rep. Don Marostica of Loveland said he doubts Pinnocol will cooperate. And if they don’t, colleges are out $300 million.
The end result? Again, tuition goes up. A lot.
The JBC’s decision to cut higher education funding and its subsequent hair-brained back-up plan demonstrate that our legislature cares little about its student population.
Higher education is, apparently, the JBC’s lowest priority, and our legislators aren’t even willing to put the time in to come up with a viable solution.
Clearly they’re not representing your interests. Call them and let them know how you feel. There’s still time to change the course of this decision.
Sen. Moe Keller, Jefferson County — 303-866-2585
Sen. Abel Tapia, Pueblo County — 303-866-2581
Sen. Al White; Eagle, Garfield, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt — 303-866-2586
Rep. Jack Pommer, Boulder County — 303-866-2780
Rep. Mark Ferrandino, Denver County — 303-866-2911
Rep. Don Marostica, Larimer County — 303-866-2947