Dec 142008
Authors: Aaron Hedge

As Colorado prepares itself for large budget shortfalls in the next few years, Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposed fiscal year 2010 funding scheme for CSU leaves the System Board of Governors nearly $40 million behind the cost of its stretch goals and more than $6 million behind in mandatory operating costs, according to preliminary proposals.

The governor’s recommendation for the total increase in spending authority for the CSU System is $21.1 million, with $14.6 million of that new money coming million of that new money coming from a recommended tuition increase of 9 percent — nearly $400 per student per year.

The increase leaves the board nearly $43 million short in funding for their $64 million proposed budget they adopted for the system in August.

Rich Schweigert, the chief financial officer for the System, said in a letter to board members at their monthly meeting earlier in December that the university would have to rely on other means to raise the money, which include possibly freeing up state appropriations through legislation that brings gambling tax money to community colleges.

Amendment 50, which passed on Nov. 5, allows gambling towns in Colorado to do business 24/7 and increase maximum bet limits. The extra tax money would go to community colleges in Colorado, which student government President Taylor Smoot said might free up dollars originally allocated to those community colleges for appropriation to universities.

Michele McKinney, a BOG spokesperson, said that while the budget proposals are preliminary as the state appropriations process is just beginning, the university’s priorities lie with externally driven expenses.

“Our main concern is to convey to the Joint Budget Committee our mandatory costs,” she said.

Following a national trend of public institutions relying more heavily on student wallets to pay for operations, tuition and student fees at CSU have risen 72 percent and 53 percent respectively in the past five years.

In 2007 alone, the tuition price tag at CSU rose 16 percent as CSU closed the university credit gap from nine to 10 credits per semester, meaning students have to pay for an extra credit.

McKinney said it’s too early to tell whether the university will take full advantage of the 9 percent increase in tuition spending authority, adding that tuition in different programs could go up more than others.

“Those discussions have not happened yet,” McKinney said.

She also said CSU may rely more on fees than in the past.

Development Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at

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