Budget cuts loom over Rams

Feb 152011
Authors: Jim Sojourner

CSU’s budget may be back on the chopping block after Gov. John Hickenlooper submitted his revised 2011-12 budget Monday that includes another $36 million cut to state higher education funding.

The cut, which would drop funding for colleges from $555 million down to $519 million, falls squarely between the optimistic and pessimistic funding scenarios CSU officials discussed during the university’s Budget Retreat on Jan. 28 and 29.

During the retreat, Executive Provost and Executive Vice President Rick Miranda said in the optimistic scenario where state funding stayed at $555 million, CSU would have a hole of about $9 million to fill with a 5 percent budget reduction of about $11.5 million.

In the pessimistic scenario where state funding could drop to $500 million, CSU would have about $20 million to make up for by cutting its budget by 10 percent, or about $23 million.

Hickenlooper’s proposal puts funding in between the two scenarios, so CSU will likely have to cut its budget by more than 5 percent for fiscal year 2012.
Last year’s state higher education allocation included about $130 million in backfilled federal stimulus money, which has dried up. Without that money, Hickenlooper’s proposed cut comes to a $125 million net decrease in higher education funding from the current year.

According to the Denver Post, that would translate into $877 less per college student for the 2011-12 budget year, which begins in July.

But the higher education cut makes up only a small part of the total $570 million in budget-balancing Hickenlooper, a Democrat, plans to make on top of the budget that former Gov. Bill Ritter, also a Democrat, proposed in November.

Public K-12 education would take the brunt of the budget slash, with a $375 million reduction in funding, amounting to a cut of about $500 per student, according to the Denver Post.

In addition, the plan calls for the shuttering of a state prison in Las Animas. Bonny Lake State Park could also be closed, and services at three other parks could be scaled back.

Neither CSU nor the governor’s office could be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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