Higher Ed Tax Hike?

On Thursday, the Higher Education Strategic Planning Committee recommended that the Colorado General Assembly consider referring a measure to the voters to increase taxes to fund Higher Education.

The committee presented five options for the tax increase in the nearly 40 page report which can be found here.

But how realistic is that?

Even when democrats were in control of both houses of the Colorado legislature, they had trouble with this. HCR 10-1002 would have made a exemption in the TABOR laws for education funding. It failed to even get all of the democrats to vote for it, much less the 2/3 required to refer it to the voters. And what’s more, many people are pointing to that measure as one of the causes of the downfall of it’s prime sponsor, Rep. Benefield.

Now that the Republicans control the house, and the vast majority of them have signed the Colorado Union of Taxpayers pledge to not raise taxes, how exactly does anyone hope to pass this measure?

And even if they did, it is not likely to have the Governor’s support, since Hickenlooper ran on a platform of not raising taxes.

Much more likely is that the Higher Ed leaders hope to get the Republicans to vote no on this so that they can use it against them in the next election (“So and so voted against education funding”), and then run it as a citizen’s initiative anyway.

The task force was assembled by Governor Ritter last Spring amidst threats from college and university presidents that they would begin making recommendations without his support if he didn’t do something about their funding problems. And in fact, under the direction of Senate Majority Leader Morse and Minority Leader Penry, they did just that, passing a “Higher Education Flexibility Bill” (SB 10-003) which allows colleges and universities to raise tuition as much as 9% without any outside approval and can raise it even further with the approval of the Colorado Commission of Higher Education, whose members are appointed by the Governor and son’t answer to the General Assembly or the voters.

So on top of limitless tuition increases, higher ed now wants a tax increase, too.

But is there really any chance of them getting it?

About IndyNinja

I support People, not Parties. I support Ideas, not Ideologies. I am an independent voter.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. droll says:

    It should, but it won’t.

    In my mind, higher ed’s problem is part of a larger problem and not its own, separate issue.  That larger issue could be addressed immediately, without killing what’s left of the budget.

    While throwing money at a problem isn’t the answer; look at any country that’s been able to turn around their education program.  The one thing they have in common is the phrase “record investment.”

    That always brings me back to the same bigger questions.  The first is if this is the right time, can the country afford it?  The second is can the country afford not to?  By that I mean can we fully recover without fixing education.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Absolutely won’t happen.

      Messaging, messaging, messaging.

      That, plus the fact that what American business owners say they want (i.e., a highly educated workforce), and what American business owners really want (i.e., a cheap-as-all-fucking-hell workforce) are two nearly diametrically opposed things.

    • IndyNinja says:

      True. But Higher Ed is the one of the only unprotected portion of the budget, and is the first to be cut when times are tough.

      • droll says:

        In the past ten years or so I’ve seen some pretty good plans for extending high school to five years for at-risk youth and having those would be drop-outs graduate with an associate’s degree.  Or extending “shop” programs to trade programs.  Etc, etc.

        While I don’t think we should cut out community colleges and trade programs, they could be integrated in an overhaul (and K-12 does need one; colleges should not be teaching high school classes to high school graduates).  It’s the only way they’ll ever see any money and more people will have the chance to utilize them.

        Higher ed will never be fully funded in this country.  It’s time to come up with a better idea to preserve it.  So why not go to the only education the taxpayers will fund?

        It’s a tough problem.  I’m glad I’m only throwing out mostly random ideas on the net and not being angrily shouted at to fix it.

        • trollhaugen says:

          These types of programs are more and more common. And they have support from the legislature through passage of bills and even funding.

          The higher ed dilemma in this state is not going to be resolved until the students and their parents get fed up with tuition rates.

          Colorado schools are a bargain and those attending know that. It has to hurt before a solution will be palatable to the public.

          In the meantime, some resourceful, passionate and innovative individuals will continue to promote multiple and flexible solutions on the P-20 side.  

    • c rork says:

      It won’t be through the legislature, now way. Yes, HESP recommended a tax hike for higher ed, but they aren’t the only stakeholders that might want a larger general fund.

      Keep your ears open for a 2011 ballot initiative that includes more than just higher ed…

      • IndyNinja says:

        Reform Round Table, Great Ed CO, Associated Students, and the HESP

        Am I missing anyone at the table writing that measure? I only ask because the birdies in my office say you got a new title lately and I figured you might know.

        • c rork says:

          It depends whether it turns out to be a general fund increase or a dedicated funding stream for education.

          I’m of the opinion that a general fund increase might draw the participation of many organizations other than the ones you mentioned.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      voters may approve verys mall tax increases for something they would perceive as much higher priority than educating college students who seem to have more than enough $ of their own to buy beer, go on spring break, etc.

      For instance a tax increase to support education at community colleges, vocational training, etc. It is higher education and would greatly benefit those students and that portion of education which greatly needs strengthening and utilization.

      • JeffcoDemo says:

        college students who seem to have more than enough $ of their own to buy beer, go on spring break, etc.

        I resemble that remark.  Of course that was 25 years ago and with a part time job, the odd $2k pell grant, $200 rent, and a few small student loans, a 20 year old could live like a king.

  2. Gray in Mountains says:

    he tells me, and has said so publicly numerous times, that 0% of high school grads arrive deficient in math. Deficiency in math is a high indicator of college failure.

    Therefore, beefing up K-12, working on numbers more than just for CSAP, would benefit both the workforce that enters immediately as well as those who go to college with high hopes that they are unprepared to meet.

  3. JeffcoDemo says:

    is that more and more, you will see ONLY those who can afford plenty of beer and the ability to go on Spring Breaks, the others will be priced out college.

    Again, take care of yourself and screw the rest, the Repub manifesto.

    What I think it boils down to is does one believe that they will be better off living in an educated society or are they only interested in themselves being educated?

    Take the right and wrong out of it and make it a selfish argument, YOU will be better off if THEY get educated.

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account


You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.