Mar 222004
 
Authors: Chris Kampfe

The decision to increase tuition 1.1 percent for next year

instead of a previously suggested 40 percent may bring a general

sigh of relief to the state, but some CSU and Colorado legislature

officials see the decision as simply putting a Band-Aid over a leak

in a dam.

They believe major reconstruction will need to be done

eventually.

“(The proposal) buys some time in one-time dollars,” said Gerard

Bomotti, vice president for Administrative Services.

The Joint Budget Committee passed a 1.1-percent tuition increase

for next year for in-state and out-of-state students attending

select CSU and University of Colorado campuses, but this percentage

is not set in stone. It still requires approval from Gov. Bill

Owens and the Colorado General Assembly.

The 1.1-percent increase is a significant change from a JBC

staff recommendation two weeks ago of a 40-percent increase for

in-state students.

Owens has stated through his spokesperson that he would veto any

attempts at a 40-percent tuition increase and that by using state

tobacco-settlement money, the legislature may be able to ease the

budget deficit.

CSU officials view the settlement proposal positively, but they

remain skeptical about higher education’s financial well-being in

future years.

“If tobacco money is used, it’s just a one-year temporary

answer,” Milligan said.

The recession of higher education funding comes as a result of

constraints placed on the state General Fund from the Taxpayer’s

Bill of Rights and Amendment 23. TABOR restricts state tax

increases, including tuition because tuition is considered state

income. Amendment 23 requires increases in funding for K-12

education, which gives proportionately less funding to other state

programs.

“Tuition increases require us to refund the General Fund,” said

Sen. Peggy Reeves, a member of the JBC. “That’s why it’s so

important for us to look at changes to TABOR and Amendment 23.”

One goal of increasing the tuition is to raise it high enough to

cover costs, but not so high as to merit a refund to the state in

reaction to TABOR.

“The 1.1 percent represents all that (the JBC) can raise; their

hands are tied,” Milligan said. “They recognize that a higher

percentage might be appropriate.”

An increase even as high as 5 percent might trigger these

refunds, and other areas of the state, including higher education,

may suffer more budget cuts from the refunds, said Reeves,

D-Larimer County.

The tobacco money gives a temporary respite from these

constraints.

The Associated Students of CSU recognizes the proposal’s

short-term nature.

“I don’t see how over the course of time we’re going to deal

with a declining state revenue without raising tuition,” said Jesse

Lauchner, president of ASCSU. “A one-time sum will by no means

sustain anything on campus.”

But Bomotti sees the settlement money as the best option for the

current situation.

“I can’t think of a better solution or combination they could

have come up with,” Bomotti said. “Given these constraints, I

appreciate legislature showing concern and helping us all they

can.”

Although the higher education officials handle most of the

financial budget management, students are the ones who will feel

any future tuition increases.

“I think they could look at other things besides tuition,

because it results in a lot of people not being able to afford

school,” said Stephanie Lum, a junior zoology major. “You’re taking

away from the people that don’t have the resources or abilities to

pay for college.”

Lum is also not convinced higher education is the most effective

from which to make cuts.

“If you want our economy to get better, why are we cutting from

higher education?”

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.