As the Colorado General Assembly begins planning for 2005 fiscal
year, the battle between the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and higher
education may be coming to an end.
Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction, is fully aware of the
possibility of this ending. Teck is considering asking the assembly
to put an initiative before voters to either redraft TABOR to help
balance the budget or allow the elimination of funding for higher
Teck has speculated that cutting funding would, among other
repercussions, force universities to privatize themselves and
potentially raise tuition by two or three times to subsidize lost
Keith Ickes, associate vice president for Administrative
Services and director of the Office of Budget and Institutional
Analysis, said cuts of this magnitude are unprecedented for higher
“There is no precedent, if this were to happen, it would be
overwhelming. We’re talking about earth-shattering changes,” Ickes
said. “No one has ever done this. The last time this might have
possibly happened would have been in the 1800s when universities
were founded by land grants”
Linda Kuk, vice president for Student Affairs, has similar views
on the situation.
“This is fate, it’s either going to happen soon or it’s not,”
Kuk said. “If the funding does get cut altogether, higher education
in the state would probably come to a halt.”
Andy Hartman is the director of policy and research for the Bell
Policy Center in Denver and has been closely following the TABOR’s
effects on higher education. Hartman said he is not fully aware of
Teck’s intentions, but he is hoping they are to draw attention to
the issue, rather than make actual cuts.
“I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to make people know what is
happening,” Hartman said. “People are starting to understand that
this issue is the poster child for how TABOR is wreaking
Hartman said that even though higher education is bringing
TABOR’s problems to the forefront, its effects can be seen in other
state areas as well.
“It’s not the only part of the budget that’s getting killed,”
Hartman said. “Public health is getting disbanded as well. A lot of
bad things are happening because of TABOR.”
Hartman said his organization will be very involved in bringing
a proposal to the legislature on TABOR.
“Our first point is that we don’t need to dismantle higher
education, we need to fix TABOR,” Hartman said. “We’ll probably be
in close contact with (state legislators) to fully understand this
While Hartman and his associates will be working hands-on with
the legislature, CSU has restrictions on its involvement.
“We can provide information to the public, but because we’re
funded by the state, we can’t use state dollars to lobby against
legislation,” Ickes said. “What we can do is institutionally
While speculations are still being made as to the intended
effects of Teck’s comments, the feeling of a looming fiscal danger
is still around for officials in higher education.
“If I were a student,” Kuk said. “I would be very