It’s a last-ditch effort at best, but the bill that passed in the state Senate Monday — one which proposes that $300 million be moved out of a surplus in state workers’ compensation funding and into higher education — may be the last hope we have this year.
While it’s a shifty measure by the state legislature and it’s drawing intense criticism from the insurance agency Pinnacol’s representatives and stakeholders alike, Colorado universities are likely to be facing extreme financial woes if the Long Bill passes as it stands today.
With a $300 million cut to state higher education funding attached to the budget bill, options will be looking entirely bleak should some form of alternative financial assistance not be passed in the end.
The problem with the budget cuts still stands, as the measure to cut millions from higher education seems to be setting a dangerous precedent in terms of the amount of money universities will see from the state in future years. But despite student and Pinnacol-led protests, it doesn’t appear our state legislators are brimming with alternate solutions to Colorado’s budgetary crisis.
If higher education is the source they choose to shoulder the hit, we hope the House Appropriations Committee and, eventually, Gov. Bill Ritter will be mindful enough of student needs that they additionally pass the proposed backfill.
Next year, we may not have a surplus lying around to lift money from, and we need immediate action from our legislature to reverse currently standing limitations that prevent raising the state’s level of funding support for our schools.
The legislature shouldn’t look to students to bear the brunt of the costs of their education. Now’s the time to make sure they hear your concerns so they don’t have that option.