CSU President Larry Penley took the floor before the student government last night, speaking mainly of the $47 million budget increase the Board of Governors hope to get for the upcoming academic year.
But it’s a stretch that students could be paying for if state legislators don’t pay up.
“If state funding of that $47 million is not very high, are they going to do whatever it takes to get to that funding, including another massive tuition increase,” said Luke Ragland, vice president of legislative affairs for the Associate Students of CSU.
Ragland questioned Penley on the fact that another massive tuition increase was on the horizon as a result of the budget increase.
The increase, Penley said, will help fund construction projects around campus, including a brand new academic classroom facility to address the needs of a growing student population. The increase would also bring in 77 new faculty members and continue to increase funds for research and development programs at CSU, he said.
“This has been the best budget year this university has experienced in the last 15 years,” Penley said. “We can do the kinds of things I’ve been talking about; we can increase the funding for faculty, increase the undergraduate experience, we can do these things to build a better university.”
Colorado is notorious for providing low funding to its public higher education institutions, ranking dead last in the nation in at least one study. Penley said it was time legislators create a permanent source of funding for higher education and encouraged attending students to ask their representatives to follow suit.
Ragland said it would be hard to predict what direction Colorado legislators would take in regards to funding for higher education until after November, when both Gov. Bill Ritter and the Colorado Commision on Higher Education releases their budget plans.
Katie Gleeson, ASCSU president, said she saw Penley as presenting the reality of the situation as it was: the university needed more money. And it’s a hymn student government leaders have been singing for years.
“The reality is, we don’t know where that’s going to come from.” Gleeson said.
While Penley has long addressed the need for legislators to divert more funding into the “future of Colorado”, he has also been accused of using sneak tactics to raise student tuition. Last year, Penley added a last minute amendment to the state budget to close the credit gap, which would’ve ultimately raised student tuition by more than $1,200.
The fallout of last year’s push to close the credit gap left many students-including ASCSU-wanting more communication from the administration.
Gleeson said she was appreciative of the efforts Penley had made in speaking with ASCSU.
“I really do think it’s a testament that he came and talked with us, and openly answered questions about things that were on minds,” Gleeson said. “In my time with ASCSU, I’m not sure he’s spent that amount of time with us.”
Senior Reporter Erik Myers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.