To the fiscal relief of many students, administrators, parents
and lawmakers in the state, students attending selected CSU and
University of Colorado campuses will not see a 40-percent tuition
increase next year.
Students can expect a 1.1-percent increase to compensate for
State budget writers voted last week to maintain the current
levels of capital going to the state’s higher education general
fund at $506.8 million.
Some JBC members are warning that without voter approval this
November to undo the current fiscal restraints of the Taxpayer’s
Bill of Rights and Amendment 23, which protects spending increases
for K-12 education regardless of economic factors or shortfalls in
the state budget, higher education could take more budget cuts in
The 40-percent tuition increase was a recommendation made to the
JBC in early March by its staff as a way to alleviate the state’s
higher education budget shortfall.
Because higher education funding is not protected in Colorado’s
constitution, it often serves as the state’s big-budgetary item
that takes massive cuts during budget shortfalls, CSU officials and
state legislators said.
Last week, Gov. Bill Owens said he would veto a 40-percent
tuition increase that landed on his desk, calling the JBC staff
recommendation a scare tactic used to sway voters into supporting a
sweeping reform of the state’s constitutional fiscal
Owens said that by cashing out the state’s tobacco-settlement
money for a lump sum and by eliminating certain trust-fund
repayments, the budget would receive an extra $291.8 million, thus
alleviating the higher education budget shortfall.
Early drafts of the 2004-05 budget were to take $100 million in
cuts from higher education, taking an estimated $50 million from CU
and nearly $20 million from CSU. It was from these projected budget
cuts that the 40-percent tuition increase was proposed.
CU President Betsy Hoffman told The Rocky Mountain News last
week that she was grateful for the smaller tuition increase but
that CU will still push for other legislation that is being
considered during this session to grant “enterprise” status to
Enterprise status is legislation that would give universities
more spending freedom and increased flexibility in raising
Opponents of the plan to cash the state’s tobacco-settlement
money all at once say this is a one-time fix and warn that the
state’s budget crisis is not over.
“We haven’t solved the long-term problem — we dodged the
bullet,” said JBC member Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction, in a Denver
Post article published on Friday.