Nov 302009
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Despite a proposed $56 million cut from Colorado’s higher education budget announced Friday, Gov. Bill Ritter’s spokesperson Evan Dryer said overall funding for higher education will increase due to projected increases in tuition revenues.

In an e-mail to the CSU community, university President Tony Frank said the proposed budget carries both positives and negatives, but compared to initial expectations, the new proposal isn’t so bad.

Although higher education will receive $282 million less in federal stimulus money than last year, Dryer said an increase of $226 million from the state’s General Fund will help make up the difference. Tuition dollars, which the proposal only allows to increase 9 percent over last year, will make up for the rest, Dryer said.

Overall, the higher education budget will increase from $1.959 billion for the fiscal year 2010 to $1.984 billion for the fiscal year 2011.

But, as Frank said, “Silver linings don’t come without clouds.”

Because the state had to spend its federal stimulus money quicker than it intended, Frank said CSU would probably receive only about $20 million in stimulus money rather than the $30 million the state had hoped would be available.

“(The federal stimulus money) is not going to have the long life it did before,” said CSU System Board of Governors spokesperson Michele McKinney in a phone interview with the Collegian last week.

Frank said because of the shortfall, the plans university officials had formulated for fiscal year 2012 will no longer work, and they must look at ways of “modestly accelerating” revenue flow increases and find areas of the university where expenses can be cut.

The CSU System Board of Governors has looked at “hypothetical” models that would alleviate the repercussions of future budget cuts, McKinney said.

The preliminary ideas include:

Restructuring funding to the university,

Privatizing portions of the CSU System and removing it from state control,

Consolidating all colleges into research or community college systems,

Partnering with other Colorado colleges to save higher education and,

Designing legislation that gives the board funding flexibility to ensure the system’s survival throughout the cuts.

Allowing universities more flexibility in deciding tuition increases is another option some state universities have lobbied for, but Dryer said Ritter proposed the 9 percent cap on tuition to “control tuition increases and keep college affordable for all Coloradans.”

“If the governing boards are given complete carte blanch to deal with tuition, it’s likely to rise more rapidly,” CSU political science professor John Straayer said in an interview last week.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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