State Sen. Bob Bacon was just trying to level the playing field for CSU, he said Thursday.
“I’m really disturbed and concerned CSU has not had the ability to maximize resources,” the Fort Collins Democrat said, referring to “the great financial disparity between CSU and other universities.”
Students, on the other hand, expressed concern about the possibility of paying more to attend CSU.
If the amendment had passed, CSU students would have been required to take 12 credit hours to be considered full-time students instead of nine – the current amount – in order to even the playing field with other universities.
Bacon said he was unsure why CSU administration appeared to bypass the authority of the Joint Budget Committee by introducing the amendment on such short notice. He was unaware Tuesday when the amendment was killed by one vote that representatives for the student body were left in the dark.
In part, the administration would be able to use the additional funds to support lower-income students in two new scholarships.
“I did not know of any spade-work the administration may have done,” said Bacon, a retired teacher and member of the education committee.
Other state legislators were responding Thursday, some concerned with CSU’s policy and procedural approach in spending authority for about $34 million in extra funds.
“They came in on the 11th hour and the 59th minute,” said Sen. Steve Johnson, a Larimer County Republican who sits on the Joint Budget Committee.
The JBC takes recommendations that come from the collaboration of college institutions, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the governor’s office.
From there, the committee approves the negotiations and weaves them in the budget-or Long Bill-and ultimately approves the spending authority for a university.
In this case, the CSU administration bypassed the JBC and at the last moment introduced a drastic amendment asking for more spending authority, Johnson said.
“I kind of feel like we were blindsided,” Johnson said. “This was a bad policy brought about in a bad process.”
Rep. Don Marostica, (D-Larimer County) said he was shocked when the amendment was proposed.
“I don’t know why I came in at such a late date,” said Marostica, who had no direct involvement in the amendment. “It seems like they are pushing the limit.”
Some members of the Associated Students of CSU learned about the amendment late Tuesday, prompting ASCSU President Jason Green to call an emergency session Wednesday.
By 3 a.m. on Thursday, CSU senators had passed two resolutions voiced against the process by which administration didn’t make notice of their plan and by the amendment itself, even though it died in the state senate.
“I feel mocked that they could go behind our back, push us around and treat us like children,” said Reiley Altenborg, an associate director of ASCSU.
ASCSU senator William Vieth said he wants the student body to be informed about potential tuition spikes.
“There are going to be students who would have trouble paying for the rest of their college education,” Vieth said. “A sudden drastic change like this will affect a student’s ability to graduate.
Other students interviewed Thursday night agreed.
“If they raise tuition, I’m going to be, like, 60 before I can pay off all my student loans,” said Katie Ordal, a senior engineering and liberal arts double major. “I chose to come to CSU and not CU for a number of reasons. Tuition was definitely a part of it. And I think that’s true for a lot of people.”
Green said he supports tuition increases as long as ASCSU is aware of the terms.
“Because I have been equally busy,” Green said, “I cannot put all the blame on (Penley).”
Staff writers Marissa Huton-Gavel, Stephanie Gerlach and Emily Polak contributed to this report. City Editor James Baetke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org