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October 01, 2010 06:57 PM UTC

Elimination of State Support for Higher Ed Possible in 2011

  • by: c rork

(Drowning in the bathtub yet? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s hopes of sustaining funding to our K-12, and especially our higher education system, have been eviscerated with the release of September’s revenue forecasts from the Legislative Council and Office of State Planning and Budgeting. $257 million in cuts are expected this fiscal year. Just nine short months away, we face more than $1 billion in cuts to our state government.

The problem is there is nowhere to cut. If you don’t believe me, try balancing the budget yourself. $4.4 billion has been cut from our state budget since the start of the Great Recession. When speaking on a funding allocation that the Colorado Commission on Higher Education would send to the legislature, Commissioner Greg Stevinson wanted to send a message, “that we just can’t take any more cuts….We’re cut to the bone.”

For someone who pays close attention to our state budget, every year feels like “Groundhog Day”. Our state, more than any other, significantly relied on federal stimulus dollars to back-fill our higher education budget. With the cessation of Stimulus dollars and a billion dollar shortfall, the 2011-12 fiscal year could eliminate all state support for higher education. This is a foregone conclusion if Amendments 60, 61 or Proposition 101 pass. Our state’s constitutional funding mandates have made higher education the prime target for cuts. If the last decade set any precedence for what the legislature will do, students and families can expect the cost of higher education shift to them.

Colorado’s support for higher education is already dismal. We are dead last in the nation in the funding of public four-year colleges. Since 1980, state support for higher education has decreased 70 percent. Per $1000 dollars of income, Coloradans pay $3.20 towards higher education, compared to a national average of $12.28. (View the HESP draft and background material for in-depth statistics)

There could not be a worse time to reduce state support for higher education. Thousands of workers have taken shelter in in our state’s institutions to weather the economy and retrain.

All of our gubernatorial candidates have expressed that there “is not an appetite for tax increases”. I have heard this same sentiment echoed from many legislators. This may be true, but if we do drastically decrease our support for education in Colorado, we do so at our economic peril.

The committee created to develop a long-term plan for higher education has recommended exactly the opposite:

The Degree Dividend: Building our economy and preserving our quality of life

If you get a chance, read this draft. It coherently makes an economic argument that higher education is essential to Colorado’s future. It also lays out possible revenue streams. From the introduction, “We believe our decisions on higher education- how we fund it and what we demand of it- will be key to our future, now more than ever…Without changing the course of our state is now on, we are destined for a future that we don’t want. We need to invest more.”

This state desperately needs adults of all political stripes to come together and find a solution to our budget crisis. Any intelligent person who has read our revenue forecast can tell that we need new revenue in order to keep our state’s services afloat. Try cutting $1.2 billion from our state budget. Can you honestly say that we don’t need new revenue?

Our new Governor and Legislature will have difficult choices to make the minute they step into office. If they cede to what is politically safe, our state’s ability to compete economically will be impeded at the worst time possible.

Cross posted at Square State


75 thoughts on “Elimination of State Support for Higher Ed Possible in 2011

  1. The roads are still paved.

    The schools are not leaking.

    People still move here.

    Therefore everything is ok.

    This is just the latest scare tactic from the tax and spend left to try and expand government.

    Gov’t needs to get smaller- not bigger.  And by “smaller” I mean nothing that touches the infrastructure I care about, the direct payments that I care about or national security.

    Or food and drug safety. Or clean air standards.  Or the Marine Corps marching band because, seriously, those guys can play.

    Why does CO need so much higher ed anyway? Most f the students corm form out of state – let them pay for it.

    OR better yet, set tuition to cover the cost of the educational institution and make the students pay for it themselves.

    1. set tuition to cover the cost of the educational institution and make the students pay for it themselves.

      Today is the deadline for public colleges and universities to submit their requests for tuition hikes for next year, when the federal stimulus money is gone. Tuition increases are currently capped at 9 percent, but if institutions can make a reasonable argument for more than that, they can ask the CCHE (and by extension, the legislature) for permission to go above 9 percent.

      Several years ago, a plan was floated to allow institutions to create a graduated system of tuition – that is – students who can pay more, WILL. Students whose families are in the highest income bracket, above $100k, will be charged the full cost of education. Those at the lowest end will in effect be subsidized by those high-income students. That would leave financial aid for those in the middle – too high to qualify for Pell, for example, but too low to afford the unsubsidized tuition.

      I would not be surprised if this is the plan submitted by the institutions and the CCHE, or something close to it.

    2. You got any facts to go with your claim that most students come from out of state? What would happen to access to higher ed if the students had to pay the whole deal themselves. You anti-tax crowd aren’t going to be happy till were back to driving horses to work on dirt roads and only the wealthiest go to college.

      1. There is NO evidence that “most of colorado’s students come from out of state.” Madco is being tongue-in-cheek. The highest percentage of out-of-state students who go to school here are at CU-Boulder, around 45 percent. The ratio of in-state to out-of-state students is capped by state law at 55 to 45 percent, to ensure that Colorado students get to go to school here. Assuming they can afford it…

        OTOH – There have been numerous reports over the past decade, beginning with the NORED report in 2001, that Colorado imports most of its college-education workforce. It’s called the “colorado paradox” and is well documented and well known throughout higher education and the state legislature. The Colorado paradox is that while our state ranks #1 or #2 in the nation in the number of residents who hold bachelor’s degrees, it’s because they get their education elsewhere and then move here. The number of Colorado high school graduates who go on to college in Colorado is quite low, although I don’t remember off the top of my head what that percentage is.

        1. All the more reason we don’t need state funded higher ed.

          We get all the college grads we need by importing them from other states. And more than enough grad students.

      2. and mimicing the the arguments of the we-don’t-need-no-steekin-taxes crowd.  

        I hope he is, anyway.  Otherwise, I’ll send Beej and his crew around to break his legs.

         Colorado does have a lot of out-of-state college students but if memory serves, by law they pay 110 percent of the cost of their instruction.  Given the mediocre quality of our schools, that’s high — but the skiing is great.  So the sons of rich lawyers from New York are helping subsidize the educations of Colorado kids.  More power to them.

        1. Obviously I need to spend some time here and learn the personalities. It’s just listening to the Doug Bruces of the state go on about privatizing (eliminating) higher ed gets my blood boiling. A good, accessible, higher education is one of the greatest gifts we can give future generations.

      3. All made up in this post – I know most students at state schools are from Colorado.  

        I think tuition and fees should be waived for every instate hs graduate with at least a 3.61 GPA (and good citizenship rules – no dui, no drugs, etc and rules to preserve it once at college)

        I think the higher ed budget should include a statewide very hispeed internet build out and allow access to any resident (not for credit, modeled on the MIT and Yale access)

        I think CO should build a new state school, or convert an existing campus, to focus on 14-16 year old students who are ready to matriculate to baccalaureate work.   Competitive entrance, science, technology and engineering focused. Campus housing required for anyone not living at home with legal guardian.

        I think CO should cut the sports programs loose- they all get the same level per student of funding. The coaches and staff should be subject to Title IX balancing requirements.

        In state students who graduate faster than 4 years should get a cash incentive.

        I could go on- but you get the idea.

        Smart investment in higher ed is a can’t miss.  Those who think otherwise believe CA and MA (and other places) developed so much faster than the rest of s because of the weather and corruption. Have you been to Silicon Valley? Route 128?  Not exactly low tax havens (among the top 10 by any measure) but  yet year after year they get start up after start up.

    3. I’m a lifelong Colorado resident, and I attended CU for 4 years back in the 1980s.  Even though tuition was much, much lower back then, I was barely able to pay my way through with a combination of loans and work study.

      As to “most” of the students coming from out of state, that’s not true.  At CU, 33.9% are from out of state (although this year, nonresident applications dropped 19%).  They pay $26,756.00 per year in tuition, compared to $7,278.00 for in-state students.

    4. “set tuition to cover the cost of the educational institution and make the students pay for it themselves.”

      What kind of tuition increases would be required?

      The percentage of public funds that various public colleges in Colorado receive from the state government (not counting COF or Tobacco Funds):

      •Mesa State College 20.3%

      •Adams State College 16.8%

      •Fort Lewis College 13.8%

      •Western State College of Colorado 7.4%

      •Colorado State University 3.9%

      •Colorado School of Mines 3.1%

      •Colorado Community College System 2.8%

      •University of Colorado System 2.4%

      •University of Northern Colorado 1.2%

      •Metro State College 0%

      COF funds are Colorado’s higher education voucher program. In state undergraduate students are eligible for them for about five years.  COF funding works out to roughly $4,080 per year per in-state student at public colleges and $2,040 per year at private ones, for full time students.

      COF Funds are also available to students at all public college and universities and at:

      Colorado Christian University

      Regis University

      University of Denver

      1. Is that the percentage of their budgets that come from general fund? That doesn’t look right – Metro gets nothing? CCCS gets only 2.8 percent? That doesn’t fit with what I’ve seen over the years….

        1. around November 12, 2009, from which I cut and paste in a blog post here (it may still be there but I linked to her webpage, rather than the specific press release when I made the post that I cut and paste from) and the College Opportunity Fund website.

          Thus, Metro State College, with 0% institutional suppport and nearly 100% in state students, is receiving about $4,080 per FTE student from state government through the COF program, and almost none through direct appropriations.  The “stipend” column in its tuition schedule is the source of almost all of the state money that it receives.

          The COF was created in 2004 mostly to circumvent TABOR which counts college tuition revenues as taxes for purposes of its revenue limits if institutional support is more than 10%, but not if it is less than 10%, and doesn’t count voucher programs as institutional support.

          This had the intended effect of dramatically reducing the amount of funding that Colorado provides directly to institutions of higher education, and replacing it with funds provided via voucher payments (through the COF).


          1. I have to disagree with Sen. Carroll on this – to say that Metro gets NO state support is inaccurate, to say the least.

            COF IS general fund money. It’s still state support that comes from the taxpayers, even if it’s in the form of a pass-through voucher. If the state has to cut $300 million from higher ed in 2011-12, I guarantee that the COF will have to bear a big chunk of those cuts, because fee-for-service funding is $267 million in general fund and the COF is $268 million in general fund (source: HB 1376). Metro, in its 2010-11 budget, gets $33 million in COF and $6 million in general fund through fee-for-service. Their total budget figures aren’t available from any checking I could do, so I went to their 2009-10 budget to see what the percentages look like.

            According to Metro’s 2009-10 budget data book, their total budget was $123.5 million; of that, $36 million was from the state in general fund support, either from the COF or from fee-for-service funding. That’s about 30 percent. Federal stimulus money, which was reduced in 2010-11 and replaced by state general fund, was about $12 million. Tuition makes up most of the rest.

            1. The point is that there is good reason to distinguish “institutionnal support” from “COF support”, even though both are GF money.  The point is that it gets no or little support for the institution as such, as opposed to support at the student level through COF to give them a “your in state and your breathing” scholarship that is the same at every public institution in the state.

              Also, COF declines are different than tuition increases, because they impact every in state student in the state in the same dollar amount, don’t require any affirmative tuition change by the governing body of the institution, and presumably don’t count towards the 9% cap on tuition increases.

              If COF goes from $4,000 to $500, per FTE per year, then every in state student in the state gets a $3,500 per year tuition increase (or half that at private institutions).

              The non-COF part of Metro’s budget funded with GF dollars looks like about 4.4% and if that was offset against federal stimulus money for colleges in the accounting, that could easily net to zero.

    5. No one likes to pay their taxes.  Some don’t.  The richest 2% have found ways to avoid paying taxes altogether.  That’s why taxes on those earning under $250,000 per year typically pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than, say, Warren Buffett.  The rich need to pay their fair share and not get to bank their income overseas to avoid taxes here in the U.S.  If you live in the U.S.  you need to pay taxes in order for our communities to thrive.  If you don’t think that paying taxes is your responsibility, then you need to move to another country.

      The Republicans have wrecked the American economy through their greed and avarice to commit our country to wars for oil and to provide corporate welfare.  The Republicans intend to eliminate many of the social programs that provide the underclasses with their only means of support.  This is intentional on their part, not to save money but to privatize all social programs so that the wealthy can take a cut of the welfare pie.  There is also an assumption among Republicans that people who live in poverty in this country have somehow brought their circumstances upon themselves and deserve it.  This moralistic prejudice is becoming more and more evident as we see the Tea Party fringe lay blame for the fiscal problems of the nation on the entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Social Security Insurance.  These programs are not the problem.  It is the wasteful spending on the military industrial complex, the unnecessary wars, the lack of oversight and regulation of the financial industries, and the advancement of corporate welfare that sees bailouts going to the top earning companies, and the Republican plan to privatize even war in order to make a buck that has unhinged our economy.  The Republicans have expanded government even more than the Dems with the creation of Homeland Security (isn’t that supposed to be the job of the Defense Department???) and want to extend Bush’s tax cuts to the very rich in order to make the very rich even richer.  Why can’t you right wingers see that Republicans will still fight for bigger government; it is simply how the pie is divided that will  change?

      I for one am voting Democratic because this is the party that fights for fairness and speaks for the underclasses who would otherwise have no voice in Congress.  I leave you with one image of how the Republican party works in Congress, and that is the image a few years ago of House Speaker Boehner passing out Big Tobacco checks to Republicans while on the floor of the House.  Now tell me that you think a party that permits this kind of galling greed is worthy of our votes to reinstate them to power.

  2. We are disinheriting our children.  I came from a poor family but could work through CU at a time when tuition was about $300 a year. (mid-60s)  Even adjusting for inflation, it’s triple that now.  My kids, both of whom have graduate degrees, also have loans equal to the gross domestic product of Luxemburg.

     When I first covered the lege for That Which Must Not Be Named, higher ed got about 20 pct of the general fund.  It’s below 10 pct now and headed to nothingness.

      Welcome to Bruceworld.  Our taxes are low, but we can’t pay them on the minimum wages we earn at Wal-Mart because we couldn’t go to college.  But that’s OK — our roads are so bad we probably couldn’t drive to school anyway.

      I am ashamed of my generation and the way we have failed to pass on to our children and grand children the opportunities the Great Generation bequeathed to us.

    1. The Beej got his.

      If your generation (and mine that is pushing up against yours) had done a better job passing along the benefits available in this incredible land, your reward would probably be more Beejsters.

  3. UGH.

    For Pete’s sake. This state already imports highly educated workers from outside Colorado and outside the country, and exports many talented young people to other states because even with in-state tuition many programs offered by our universities can’t compare to those in other parts of the country. CSU’s vet school is great, DU has a good law school, CU is strong in the hard sciences, but we don’t have a single all-around world class institution here, and tuition is already unaffordable for anyone who isn’t rolling in dough and doesn’t want, as Voyageur put it, “student loans roughly equal to the gross domestic product of Luxembourg.”

    We want a strong economy, but we don’t want to produce skilled workers. We want high CSAP scores, but we don’t want kids to feel like they have any chance of getting a college education even if the work their behinds off in K-12. We want to remain a world power, but we’re about to offer the next generation of grads less support for continuing education than they’d get in some third world countries.

    1. I agree that the economic future of Colorado rests upon educating OUR citizens.  We have been able to rely on educated people moving here, but like many others have hinted at, we have a moral responsibility to educate our in-state students at an affordable cost.

      But I do have to disagree with you on one point, Colorado does have some world class schools.  It is a testiment to the ability of the schools to do a lot with very little. CSU vet is top three in the world, CU-Med is one of the most desirable in terms of difficulty to gain admission, CU-Law is #38/200 (well ahead of private DU-Law), CSU’s chemistry/physics dept are gaining national recognition, and CU’s aerospace program is arguably the best.  

      in the country.  Point is, think how great they could be with proper funding!

      The real danger is that regular Colorado kids are not going to be able to attend these schools because of rising tution.  Every year more and more people are pushing for Colorado to move to a private higher ed model, that sends chills down my spine.  

    2. To be fair it is not the state that is importing them as if they were products.  The highly educated people come for the quality of life, lower cost of living than somewhere like NY or CA, and because there are jobs.  The thing is that it is common wisdom that the people living here as a whole will not vote for higher taxes.  

      I suspect, but have no evidence, that most would be in favor of higher taxes to support something they like, but the thing is that everyone’s wants and needs are different.  The problem is in what specifically to tax and what specifically to spend on.  While a tax hike in general might be supported if people were convinced of the need any individual tax hike would probably have majority opposition with people saying, “Hey, I wanted a different tax (that does not hit me personally so much) raised.”  And no one wants to be the politician who puts higher taxes on ballot because that will be used to hammer those representatives at the next election even if it does pass.

      Ask for more money for the general fund and they’ll say no because they want to know where the money will be spent.  Put a tax rise on the ballot to fund a specific program and they’ll vote against it because it does not help them personally, they don’t see the need, too limited, or they wanted to fund something else.

    3. On the other hand, we could be smarter about how we spend the money that we do spend.

      1.  We don’t have to use state money to fund private higher education when money is very scarce.

      2.  We could get more bang for our very limited bucks with need based rather than across the board in state residency based tuition assistance for students, even when many are quite affluent.

      3.  We spend a significant amount of public funds subsidizing higher education for students who need remedial work, and have a very low chance of graduating given their weak history of academic success in high school.

      If most of our higher education money were spent on need based assistance to students who have academic credentials sufficient to give them a realistic chance of graduating, we could do more than we do now to help students who need and could benefit from financial assistance for the same amount of money.

      I also think it wouldn’t be illegitimate to take the money that state government spends on remedial education from graduates of public high schools in Colorado from the K-12 budget, rather than the higher education budget, on the theory that it amounts of “warranty work.”  As much as K-12 spending is near and dear to my heart with two kids in public schools in Colorado, the reality is that in dire financial circumstances a little reduction of funds for existing programs there, in a way that creates an institutional incentive to prepare high school graduates to be ready for college (particularly through increased attention to minimum standards in math in the curriculum), wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

      1. I agree with you that it is problematic for us to be subsidizing remedial courses for students who are not prepared for higher education.

        I don’t know the details of how the Colorado Opportunity Fund works, but since it is attached to students, it is way too alluring for colleges and universities to accept students in order to claim COF monies.

        One approach would be to link student performance in remedial courses to the level of subsidy from the state. If students perform at at least the “B” level, then the course is subsidized. If they perform at “C” or below, they have to pay the full cost.

        I know, I know, there are major problems with this — for example the pressure on instructors to inflate grades.

        Should we privatize it? Maybe we can reward businesses that hire students who need remedial work and pay their full tuition rates?

        Or, shouldn’t this be something we ask the faith-based community to address? Remedial needs students can have their full tuition paid by joining this or that congregation?

        Whatever, don’t start pretending that the student and parents have any responsibility here. Don’t go there.

        1. “I agree with you that it is problematic for us to be subsidizing remedial courses for students who are not prepared for higher education.”

          I don’t have any problem with subsidizing remedial courses for students who are not prepared for higher education.  Indeed, I think we should spend much more money doing that than we do.  If anything, students who need remedial education deserve state subsidies for their study more than students who don’t, because they didn’t get their money’s worth the first time.

          But, I do think that it wouldn’t violate the spirit of Amendment 23 to take the money that we spend to do that out of the Amendment 23 protected K-12 budget line, rather than the totally unprotected under the state constitution higher education budget line.  There is a sense of bureaucratic justice in taking this money out of the K-12 line and funding this small part of the higher education system’s need from this source wouldn’t put that serious a dent in K-12 funding in the state.

          I also think that, knowing that students who need remedial work or have weak high school academic backgrounds are very prone to flunk out, that it isn’t fair to the state’s taxpayers or to the students and their families who have to pay their share of tuition to admit them to college when we know going in that they have a dismal chance of succeeding.  Proving that people aren’t ready for college by having them flunk out isn’t doing anyone any favors.

          We should help students go to college, and should really do more to help students who need training but aren’t college bound, but we need to help them go to college when they are ready to do it without flunking out, not simply because they are eighteen years old and fill out college applications, regardless of their readiness to do the work.

  4. Your gifted higher ed educators are leaving you and crap like this makes it increasingly hard to recruit new quality professors.

    I know several professors who have taken new jobs in other states in the last two years. Colorado’s anemic and unstable support for higher ed was a big part of their decision to leave. Other states tend to pay more, have lower costs of living, stronger support for tenure, and a better economic outlook for higher ed. In one of our states institutions, adjunct pay has not been increased in over 18 years. In the free market  for education talent Colorado is loosing.

    Politicians and Higher ed administrators need to do a better job of explaining the critical role of Higher ed to the something-for-nothing crowd. Then they need to grow a pair and find new revenue streams.  

  5. The “other” category in the simulation alone is $750 mil. Cut 1 or 2% across the board, even exclude higher ed if you want, and then cut extraneous things from the miscellaneous category. The budget can be easily balanced, even without cutting funding for higher ed.

    1. And be specific.

      OTHER: Colorado’s General Fund includes additional spending categories for the Departments of Public Safety, Public Health and Environment, Judicial and Revenue, …

      Do you want to cut Public Health? Public Safety? Oil & Gas Commission permitting staff?

      Quit being so wimpy and identify specifics to cut.

        1. Check page 5 of the STARS Report.  The “other” spending categories for the state are: Agriculture, Governor’s Office, Judicial, Law, Legislative Branch, Local Affairs, Military and Veterans Affairs, Natural Resources, Personnel and Administration, Public Health & Environment, Public Safety, Regulatory Agencies, Revenue, Transportation, and Treasury.

          The good news is that if you just eliminate the general fund spending from those 15 departments you can save $1 billion.  Problem solved.  

          1. Beej has a natural, inborn knack for taking a lack of reading comprehension to a whole new level.

            It’s his thing.  It’s what differentiates him from all other morons.

            Would YOU give up a competitive edge like that?

    2. There are hard state constitutional limits on how much you can cut K-12 education.

      There are federal mandates that dramatically limit how much you can cut Medicaid, and every dollar you cut from Medicaid that you are allowed to cut reduces federal matching funds by a dollar.

      The only way to meaningfully cut the corrections budget is to reduce the number of people who are in prison.  The legislature has don’t this prospectively by reducing sentences for non-violent offenses,  but in the short term, the only way to do it is to let lots of prisoners out of prison.

      Lots of government services are financed almost entirely with user’s fees or earmarked taxes (like gas taxes) that aren’t available for programs financed out of the state general fund.

      The amount of general fund money spent on everything else, besides K-12, higher ed, Medicaid and corrections is quite small.  Transporation funding, for example, comes almost entirely out of earmarked gas tax and vehicle registration revenues.

      Higher ed funding is very attractive to cut, from a legislator’s perspective, because institutions can raise tuition to make up for falling general fund appropriations, thus shifted burdens from taxpayers to students and their families but not actually causing the service to cease to be offered, while most other general fund beneficiaries don’t have that option.

      The general fund budget is about $7 billion.  An across the board cut of $1 billion would be about a 14% cut, and the reality is that an across the board cut is simply not permitted by the state constitution.

      TABOR limitation on raising taxes without a vote of the people also means that budget shortfalls have to come almost entirely out of spending cuts rather than tax increases for the fiscal year for which we have the $1 billion shortfall, although the Colorado Supreme Court has opened up the possibility of raising revenue by eliminating some tax breaks.

      It is virtually impossible to meet a $1 billion shortfall in a $7 billion general fund budget without cutting higher education substantially.  And, as ugly as it is to make big cuts to higher education, as a legislator is is hard to say that cutting Medicare or releasing large numbers of felons early from their prison sentences is more attractive as an option to close the shortfall.

      1. Legislators, especially those on the JBC, have said for the past several years the ONLY place they can go for more budget cuts is higher ed. It’s not protected by federal or state mandates, like Medicaid or Amendment 23, and it doesn’t have the protections generally afforded to corrections, the next biggest piece of the state budget.

        Higher ed is extremely vulnerable – they’ve already been told (through passage of SB 3 in the last session) to come up with a plan to show how they would cut $300 million out of their 2011-12 general fund appropriations. That’s more than half – the institutions’ total general fund in 2010-11 is $555 million. This is especially disasterous for community colleges – they have only two sources of funding, tuition and general fund. They don’t have the endowments or the out of state enrollment that the four-year colleges and universities have.

        One of three things will likely happen – either tuition increases will go through the moon, which will price a lot of colleges right out of the market; or colleges will be given the option to privatize (Colorado School of Mines is likely to be the first to go), or the state will start closing colleges.

        The last is the worst option, of course, and an analysis done last year by the JBC’s higher ed analyst said in the short run it wouldn’t save much money and the impact on the local communities would be very hard.


        About two years ago the JBC staff put together what higher ed referred to as the “death list” – the list of colleges to be closed. I no longer have a copy of it but if memory serves it was primarily rural community colleges plus at least one four-year college – probably Adams State.

        1. Say that if we are anywhere in the $300 million range, we might as well put all that money towards student aid.

          Thank you, Awen, for your well informed explanation.

          1. Institutional funding is a year or two of tuition hikes from zero already.

            COF funds are a highly inefficient way to bridge the gap between ability to pay and tuition costs.

            The average family of a student at a four year higher educational institution in Colorado is much higher than the state average.  A majority of CU students come from upper middle class families with six figure incomes, although at community colleges and open admissions institutions like Metro State, this is not true.

            Need based financial aid could provide more to students who are unable to pay, and less to those who are able to pay, than the current COF system.

            Discontinuing public funding for students who go to private colleges would also end one of the few areas where Colorado is more generous than almost any other state in the nation and save a little money.

        2. institutional support as it is now.  Only about 2.8% of community college revenues from from state general fund appropriations to the institutions (which could be made up for via a less than 9% tuition increase in a single year), and they do have some earmarked funds from gambling taxes.

          The main bite to community college students would come from the reduced share of community college tuition that comes from COF funds.  Basically, even though the sticker price of community college would change very little, the price that students actually pay would go up by about $4,000 a year for full time community college students.

          1. COF money IS general fund. You can’t take that out of the equation. The $555 million in general fund that higher ed institutions get includes the COF because even though it goes to the student first it’s really only a pass-through. Prior to COF the general fund dollars went directly to the institutions. The JBC and the higher ed institutions still regard it as part of their general fund support.

            Higher ed’s general fund budget is broken down into two pies: the COF and fee-for-service funding. Both originate in the general fund, although it isn’t broken down that way on the line-item appropriation in the state budget. It’s contained in the footnotes for each college; for example, for the community colleges in the 2010-11 budget, it looks like this (source; HB 1376):

            Cash funds (about $230 million): $214,432,398 shall be from the students’ share of tuition, $8,698,649 shall be from academic fees and academic facility fees, and $7,260,991 represents an estimate

            of limited gaming tax revenues that will be distributed pursuant to [Amendment 50 revenue]

            Under reappropriated funds ($117 million):

            $99,351,900 shall be from General Fund appropriated to the College Opportunity Fund Program in the Department of Higher Education for student stipend payments,

            $18,782,252 shall be from General Fund appropriated to the College Opportunity Fund Program in the Department of Higher Education for fee-for-service contracts.

            I’m not sure where you’re getting that the community colleges get only 2.8 percent of their budget from general fund. This would indicate it’s more like 33 percent.

            1. funds other than COF funds from Colorado general fund appropriations that go to community colleges.  The state budget would also not mention community college funding received from private and federal grant funds.

              According to the quote from HB 1376 above, there is no non-COF money for community colleges in there from the general fund.  The cash funds are (by definition) non-general fund and consist of tuition, fees and Amendment 50 revenue.  All of the rest of COF funds.

              COF funds are structured as a voucher rather than as institutional funding.  Thus, a cut to state funding for higher education from the general fund to community colleges would almost entirely take the form of a reduced COF stipend which would be basicallly a back door tuition increase.

              1. I realize that COF funds are structured as a voucher and any cuts to the community colleges would have to be a cut to the COF. Students don’t ever see that money – they sign it away to the institutions the minute they sign up for it.

                But in terms of budgets, the institutions don’t view the COF any differently that they do any other form of state support, i.e. the fee for service funds. The COF is still general fund and it will still have to be cut, just like the fee-for-service funds, if the institutions do in fact take a $300 million hit next year.

      2. Yes and no.

        THe common perception is that Amendment 23 ensures K12 gets funded + to  last year + population change + inflation +1% though 2011 when the +1% goes away.

        But meanwhile, the past two years funding has gone down.

        Was population change negative? no

        Oh so the inflation number was negative?  no

        Well if  population change and inflation were greater than or equal to zero , add the +1 must mean K12 funding would have to go up not down right? No.

        The “factors” were adjusted so that when the formula was applied, it resulted in less funding.

        see :

        1. was that per pupil funding was kept the same, providing the opportunity to bypass 23.

          Of course, we all know funding for k-12 was cut around 5% and has put our schools in SERIOUS financial trouble (see first link).

    3. I wrote this post for you. I believe that every child should be able to figure out that that 1-2% out of a $7 billion general fund doesn’t equal $1.1 billion. Every child should be able to deduce that eliminating all funding to our Public Health, Public Safety and Judicial departments isn’t sound public policy.

      If our education system has failed you, it is surely failing others.  

        1. so the State budget is $100 billion?

          That’s what it would have to be allow a 1% across the board to cut $1 billion.

          Bzzzt – wrong.

          Care to guess again?

          It’s so easy to budget math the way you do it – you’re probably a flat taxer who thinks 10% outta do it and leave us revenue neutral.

          And “across the board” would be virtually impossible without breaching numerous contractual obligations and breaking several federal laws.  Which contracts do you believe CO should breach? Which federal laws should we ignore?

            1. you to read the Legislative Council and OSPB revenue forecasts? Its OK, about a quarter of our students entering college need remedial education to catch up with college curriculum.

              About 50% of those students need help in math.

              You are off by (FY2010-11 and 11-12) a billion dollars. That is roughly 17% of our general fund. I didn’t include 20 links just for fun. HTML is a hassle.  

  6. Posted within the last few hours at Today @ CSU

    Colorado State University’s doctoral programs in Agricultural and Resource Economics, Atmospheric Science, and Ecology are among the top doctorate programs in the nation, according to a recently released report from the National Research Council. Other doctoral programs at Colorado State with high rankings include Biochemistry; Chemistry; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship; Physics; and Statistics.

    The rankings are the conclusion of the  National Research Council just published in A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States. The link takes you to a few options to download summaries, or the full report for $116.95.

    This is special to me. My PhD is from one of those three top ranked programs.

    On the other hand, is anybody surprised that the doctoral program in  Mathematics is not included?

    1. I’m not sure but I think it moved up to tier 2 during the time I’ve been here. I do have to chuckle a little bit about this though; one of the most active Buck supporters in Larimer County is a research associate in Atmospheric Science.  

  7. However, three points…

    – If 60/61/101 pass, at least there is a provision in the Constitution that will continue to provide funding for education. It would pretty much be the only thing the state would be funding, but nonetheless. I only say this to clarify that you are correct, higher ed funding would be gone, but so would Corrections, local governments’ funding, and a whole host of others’.

    – All of the proposed funding solutions listed in your link above would require votes by the people. Three of the five would have significant opposition in passing. The 1% on extraction idea was tried and recently failed. Expanding sales tax to specific purposes, IMHO, has the best chance of passing, but even then would be difficult.

    – Finally, the more Colorado decides to ‘protect’ or ‘defend’ any specific segment of the budget and not focus on the whole, the longer this state is going to be facing these kinds of issues. If political will is required for change, address the changes that are needed and don’t advocate for another piecemeal approach.

      1. I was talking to my brother, who is a public finance guy.  He said that if 60-61-101 pass, it would be so gruesome that they’d have to put something on the ballot in Nov. 2011 to fix it.  I asked how the state could pay for that election, and we were both stumped.  We finally concluded that Pat Stryker would have to fund it.

        1. A convention would cost around the same as an extended special session. I’m guessing that it would be two to four weeks.

          Delegates wouldn’t be paid, and legislators involved could attend unpaid.

          The logistics would be more dauting, IMO, than the cost.

          But, the political will isn’t there right now for a convention. If 60/61/101 pass, the ensuing crisis might realize a convention. If not, more of the same.

          Please don’t think I’m advocating for these to pass just to get a constitutional convention! Only saying, Americans and Coloradans tend to only make the tough decisions when faced with a true crisis…

        2. We could charge admission!

          We’ll have it someone’s uncle’s barn, and the uncle can be the Chair. Or the Sergeant at Arms.

          All the delegates pay $100,000 to attend.  The peanut gallery gets in for $0.50 per day.  Beer and popcorn are available – no peanuts.

          Frank Capra could direct, Gordon Goodwin could do the music.  Sorkin to script.  Hell, I’d pay $0.50 for that.

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