A Colorado legislature committee charged with cutting costs in
state government took dead aim at higher education expenses last
The Interim Committee on State Government Expenditures voted to
submit 12 bills in January’s Colorado General Assembly session,
three of which address higher education.
State universities and colleges would be able to withdraw their
employees from the state personnel system and start their own
system under one proposed bill.
Current employees of CSU would be given a choice to stay in the
state system or join the new one if the bill passes and if CSU
decides to start its own personnel system.
Gerry Bomotti, CSU’s vice president for Administrative Services,
said university officials are still trying to learn more about the
“The devil is in the details with this type of thing,” Bomotti
said. Any changes made would affect the university’s 2,200
state-classified employees who are now in the state’s personnel
Personnel systems cover areas such as wages, overtime and
advancement. If the university did decide to opt out of the state
personnel system, it would have to regulate all these areas itself,
including the increasingly controversial and costly area of
employee health coverage.
“If CSU did decide to opt out of the state personnel system we
would have to come up with an alternative system that works for the
university and for our state-classified employees,” Bomotti said.
Establishing a new personnel system would take at least a year,
The committee approved another draft bill that would allow state
universities and colleges to buy and operate their own vehicle
Now the state has complete control over vehicles such as
passenger vans, cargo vans and trucks. If CSU wants to buy a
vehicle it must contact the state office in Denver and go through
an application process.
CSU’s Transportation Manager Gene Stroh said the proposed bill
was a good idea. Last year CSU paid the state a $25 management
charge per vehicle every month, which added up to $146,000 for the
year, Stroh said. That cost would be eliminated if the bill
Another bill proposed by the committee would allow universities
to be exempted from the state’s risk management program and set up
their own programs.
Risk management basically means insurance coverage. The system
as it works now has almost every state agency and program,
including universities, in the same huge insurance pool. If an
inmate in a state prison decides to sue the warden and wins a big
settlement, for example, every state agency’s insurance rate would
If CSU opted out of the state risk management program, it could
seek its own insurance program. This way CSU would be judged, and
charged, on its own actions and merits, said Earlie Thomas,
director of Environmental Health Services, which runs risk
management for CSU.
As an example, Thomas mentioned how CSU implemented a dramatic
flood control project after the 1997 flood. Usually a large,
proactive risk management step such as this would lead to a drop in
insurance rates. But the university’s insurance rates still went up
because insurers evaluate the state as a whole, not just CSU.
“This would put our destiny in our own hands,” Thomas said of
the proposed bill, though he could not say if the university would
indeed opt out of the state risk management program if the bill
passed. “We would be rewarded for the good, proactive things we do.
On the other hand, we would bear the full brunt if something bad
The draft bills will be introduced and voted on during the
January session of the Colorado General Assembly.