After pledging to tackle the higher education crisis if elected, two of the three parties running in the student government elections proved Wednesday night that they understood legislation that could redirect funding to all levels of Colorado education.
During the formal election debate, candidates were asked whether they knew of and supported a measure for the November 2010 ballot that would allow legislators to sidestep a state constitutional amendment that keeps them from raising taxes without voter approval. Known as DECIDE, Decide: Education Cuts of Invest in our Democracy and Economy, the proposal would allocate state funding to K-12 and higher education.
The presidential tickets of Copper Anderson and Jennifer Babos, and Jack Becker and Darrie Burrage said they were in support of DECIDE and, if elected, would stand behind legislators to push the referendum onto the Nov. 10 ballot.
Concerned that campaigns were not as focused on the survival of higher education, Matt Worthington, director of Legislative Affairs for The Associated Students of CSU, last week had teams verbally pledge to make it a top priority.
But after hearing the campaignsâ€™ responses to his question about DECIDE, he said he is satisfied all tickets are working toward a solution. But he added later that he doesnâ€™t think all have a complete understanding of the situation.
â€œIâ€™m willing to work with whoeverâ€™s elected to do the best for students andwork to solve the higher ed. crisis,â€ Worthington said in a phone interview with the Collegian.
Becker said he has gained a â€œgood graspâ€ of the dire straights of higher education funding by keeping up with news and talking with experts on the subject. But Becker said he was in no way an expert.
If elected, he and Burrage plan to first educate students, community members and administration about the capabilities of DECIDE and then rally their support, Becker told the Collegian.
Anderson said he and Babos support the proposal because it would allow elected officials to do their jobs and intervene when taxpayers arenâ€™t willing to stand behind K-12 or higher education.
In the debate, David Ambrose and April Ragland had no comment when posed the question. In a later phone interview Collegian, after given more context about the proposal, Ambrose said he and his running mate were in full support of the measure.
He did say, however, that his campaign believes Colorado would be hard pressed to pass a referendum. Working with lobbyists and educating students is his campaignâ€™s solution, he said.
Following questions of how candidates plan to run their administration, address concealed carry on campus and their feelings toward the proposed student facility fee increase, former ASCSU vice president Quinn Girrens asked candidates how they would balance execution of their big ticket promises with their desire to garner student input.
If elected, Anderson and Babos plan to hold town hall style meetings at least once a month where students could keep up with platform success and throw suggestions and ideas into the pot. The duo will also continue a close relationship with student organizations, Anderson said.
Becker and Burrage, communication majors who are part of CSUâ€™s Center for Public Deliberation, will hold forums where students can learn about and discuss issues like concealed carry and higher education.
Getting students to talk in an intimate setting, like a round-table forum, is more effective than a meeting in which leaders lecture constituents about issues or an impersonal suggestion box, Burrage said.
Ambrose and Ragland will better utilize ASCSUâ€™s existing virtual suggestion box by checking it daily, which Ragland said isnâ€™t currently happening.
â€œThis is how students told us they want to communicate with us. Maybe it will work, maybe it wont, but weâ€™re going to try it,â€ she said.
Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.