Mar 212004
 
Authors: Jason Kosena

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

inflation.

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 future.

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

amendments.

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

Colorado universities.

Enterprise status is legislation that would give universities

more spending freedom and increased flexibility in raising

tuition.

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.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.