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December 18, 2008 08:26 PM UTC

Innovation, Don Marostica Style

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Denver Post reports:

Colorado’s four public research universities have been asked by a member of the state legislature’s budget writing committee how they would survive if they received no dollars from the state legislature.

The specter of privatization has presidents at the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the Colorado School of Mines and the University of Northern Colorado hustling to prepare worst-case scenarios to present to lawmakers today.

Tuition would inevitably jump dramatically. Programs would be slashed. And, as CU president Bruce Benson put it, “We’d have to figure out another way to turn on the lights.”

It all started when state Rep. Don Marostica of the Joint Budget Committee posed the question this week in a lengthy questionnaire to the state’s public colleges and universities.

“I wake up at 2 a.m., and I think about it. This higher education is not working; it’s costing us too much money,” said Marostica, a Republican who represents Larimer County. “I simply felt like they could be run as enterprises, true enterprises. I want them all to be private schools.”

Atta-boy, Don! Dispense with the pretense about even caring about saving “this higher education” and tell us how you really feel. After all, it couldn’t be the decades of underfunding these institutions that’s responsible for them “costing too much money.” You know, the fact that Colorado ranks in the Mississippi/Arkansas nether regions on public funding for higher education?

Back in reality, the Post continues:

“There are two questions: Is this good for Colorado, and is this good for the university? In some cases, the answer isn’t the same,” said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center of Public Policy and Higher Education, which recently gave Colorado an “F” for college affordability and access. “It seems to me you should talk about what the impact would be on opportunity.”

No matter how many times they’re repudiated at the polls, it’s amazing how these people keep coming back with the same worn-out ideas. In Colorado, they do so because despite their relegation to total minority status, their constitutional legacy of interlocking fiscal chokeholds leaves “beasts” like higher education, social services, roads–everything that keeps our state working, at the continuous brink of starvation: and ripe for the Grover Norquist chopping block.

Which, as Marostica will freely tell you, is just the way they like it. Because the best way to make college more accessible is to make it less affordable. Or something like that.


28 thoughts on “Innovation, Don Marostica Style

  1. An economy with out-of-reach higher ed = an economy with a lower level of higher ed grads compared to other states = lower overall levels of income = less revenue for state government and an overall lower quality of life in that state.

    After a while, the appeal of pretty mountains won’t overcome the characteristics Colorado would soon share with shitty states like Mississippi and Arkansas. And who wants to move there?

    1. If a Colorado kid wants to go to a hard left university, let the kid go out of state.

      I don’t want my tax dollars supporting the idiots in Boulder and Ft. Collins.

      Let other states finance higher education. The graduates all come here as soon as they can escape NY, CA and Illinois.

      What’s most important is that the state support community colleges, which train people for real jobs.

      1. If you want a state filled with people like you, go to Alaska. The rest of us are busy not being complete tools.

        Higher education not only attracts students (who often end up staying), it attracts high-tech companies through their research. Cut off higher education, and you destroy the state’s economy and population.

        You might just replace Victor Davis Hanson as the dumbest person I’ve ever read.

      2. First off, I totally agree that CC’s and vocational education get short shrift, and that should be rectified. Bob Bacon has been a strong leader on that, for example.

        But this annoying belief that you can take huge public universities and pretend that the tens of thousands of students who participate in dozens of different programs — from the hard sciences, to engineering, to medicine/vet/occupational therapy/etc. — are actually all Liberal Arts open options all attending the same two classes by a couple dippy “critical theorist” professors is getting old. And it’s beyond delusional.

        I hate to break it to you — because I know this anti-university victim myth is very precious — but college campuses in this day and age are actually very boring and apathetic. If they were as politicized as the right wing claims, these kids would actually show up to vote.  

        1. Having went to a CC, I’m not a big fan.  Maybe they did some people some good, but my AAS degree and $5 will get me a nice coffee at Starbucks.

          I definitely agree with your postion about all students and profs being goofy liberals.  My best friend from High School went to CU in the early 90s and his comment as the time was that 90% of the people in town, and at the University, were normal middle of the road types, and only 10% made all the liberal commie noise.  I’m sure it’s still the same.

          What I really don’t get is this F for affordability nonsense.  Looked up the tuition costs for UNC (, full time is $2340 a semester.  That should work out to less than $600/month.  Your total education, if you can do it in 4 years, is less than $20k – less than most people pay for a car.  This is certainly doable for pretty much anyone who wants it bad enough.

          1. That does not include any of the other expenses which add up very, very fast. And UNC, while not the worst school in the country, has an incredibly low tuition rate. Especially if you’re in-state. Plus, if kids have to work to pay for those other expenses, then it makes it just that much harder to graduate.

            You’re somewhat right about CCs. I used to go to Aims CC in Greeley, and it is like high school plus. Not very rigorous. I would say they’re really good if you want to build up credit or take gen eds, because they allow you to transfer to 4-year schools quite easily.

            1. UNC has done all it possibly can to shift costs away from that tuition number and so tuition is only a part of the story. Student fees cover much of the athletics program, some bond payments for previous construction, and much of the computer lab costs.  Add in the fact that many of the support services are now either run by private entities at higher cost to the students (health center) or are separate unsubsidized enterprise units (student center, bookstore, parking, housing) and you have a very expensive education indeed.

              Other state schools do this, but UNC decided on using its low tuition as a marketing angle several years ago so they represent the extreme of cost shifts… to the detriment of the students.

              Full-time in-state tuition is $3,942. Fees are $975, required health insurance $1,750.  Freshmen are required to live on campus and have a full meal plan- $7,784.  Parking is another $165.

              That’s a cost of $14,616 before any additional lab fees, textbooks or other costs are added.

              That’s for the least expensive four year university in Colorado.

      3. who are in business were willing to take the pay cut and show an interest in educating youth, there would be more conservatives teaching at public universities.  But no.  Y’all are too concerned about yourself to take an interest in youth.

        Convince Mike Rosen to give up his day job and teach.  Perhaps Sean Hannity could do the same.


  2. Does anyone else remember John Andrews during the height of the Ref C debate citing DU as the model for all of our state schools?

    You might be a wingnut if… you think attacking public higher ed accessibility is good public policy and good politics.  

    1. Andrews signed a pledge on a website operated by the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. By signing that pledge, he agreed that ALL public funding for education (K through university) should be terminated immediately. In other words, shut down the entire public education system.

      At least at the university level, Rep. Marostica has bought into that idea. If enacted, it would mean our colleges and universities would have to raise tuition to the same level as private ones like Harvard, Notre Dame or Stanford. Under that system of funding, most Colorado high school graduates would be unable to attend college.

      This is another example of why this Republican is voting Democrat. The Republican Party and elected Republican officials categorically refuse to acknowledge that any public policy program has any value whatsoever. All public programs and institutions are evil and must be destroyed, regardless of the conesquences for our society either today or in the future. The only policy Republicans endorse is cutting taxes and deregulating everything, again, regardless of the consequences. I’ve said this before but it needs saying again: This is not policy, it is social, economic and from a national security perspective insanity.

      Everyone should keep in mind that when Mr. Andrews was the Republican nominee for Governor against Gov. Roy Romer in 1990, it was revealed during the general election campaign that Mr. Andrews was a member of a prayer group, based in Illinois, whose pupose was to levitate Chinese mung beans through prayer.

      People can have a good laugh over all of these goofy positions and facts but we are in serious trouble economically and overseas and yet we have one political party, the Republicans, who insist on destroying the institutions our founding fathers and ancestors built over the past two centurues. Institutions, like our colleges and universities, which propelled our nation into a position of economic prosperity and unrivalled military power, and now, based on a misguided and baseless assumption that public institutions are alawys worthless and that public expenditures must always be cut along with taxes, they want to undermine and destroy one of the most basic underpinnings of our economic well being and national security.

      It is mindless, mindless ideology. The Republican Party simply does not represent the best interests of Coloradoans or Americans. Their mindless ideology will lead to the runiation of our American way of life.

      Lest anyone buy into the idea the Republican Party is going to moderate and begin to address issues other than from an extreme fanatical position, Rep. Marostica is their answer.

      We cannot trust our well being and the common good to fanatics like those people who run the Republican Party.

  3. but can we get every person in Colorado to write me a letter explaining why the government should spend any money at all on anything? Wouldn’t eliminating all spending eliminate all our problems (by eliminating all my taxes)? Would that get me a bunch of hot Objectivist chicks?”

    And Marostica proceeds to mess his pants as his brain cries feebly from the corner, “Ow Don, please stop storming me!”

      1. by Don’s suggestions, because he actually is a relatively moderate, thoughtful guy.  He is not your prototypical right-wing nut job.  Really.  I am dumbfounded.

  4. Yes you can get some to move here, but the majority of our highly educated workforce will be those we teach here.

    In addition, like most high tech companies we hire a bunch of interns frm C.U. We need them. No school, no interns.

    There’s a reason Silicon Valley is where it is – because California had the best public higher-ed system in the world and was able to feed tons of graduates into the startups.

    1. Are you familiar with it? We have the most (or third most, depending on who you ask) educated population in the country, in terms of the number of bachelor’s degrees held by our residents.

      But we are way near the bottom of the heap on the number of high school graduates who go on to college. So where’s the disparity?

      We IMPORT most of our educated population. I’d be willing to be that most of the people on this website who have college degrees came here from somewhere else. Colorado is a very attractive place to move to, which is why we get so many well educated people. They get their education somewhere else.

      Colorado does a HORRIBLE job of supporting higher education – which is why the state is 50th in the amount of per-student state support.

  5. the ‘reasonable’ face of the right wing assault on public institutions.  Today’s economic forecast will be presented to the legislature today and I predist that it will be very, very very very very very very grim.  Cuts will be made.  Did I say grim?  Marostica’s ‘hard choices’ pitch to divest the universities — will be a smoke screen for his/GOP’s unwillingness to make the hard choices to consider the backward finances of this state.  I think that in the current insecure environment people are pissed off and scared in a way that will likely be very sympathetic to greater spending that is credibly linked to greater security and opportunity.

    Rep Marostica seems to be trying the invent a leadership role for himself in this area.  “Getting rid of public higher education” will likely blow up in someone’s face, and it might as well be him.  It IS probably true that the universities receive too much emphasis in post-secondary ed and that the state is (at the very least) unimaginative and has only a patchwork of vocational and technical educational opportunities.  Most states are guilty of treating technical education as an afterthought, but that is not to argue the larger point that too much emphasis goes to the universities.  We need to get past the belief that universities are the answer to all post-secondary education needs.  

    Universities do a limited number of very important things well, even in the underfunded condition to which this state has assigned them.  For Marostica and others to say that the universities are broken or don’t work reflects the most profound ignorance of what they do and how they do it.  Marostica lives in a district that is distinctive for its proximity to Boulder, Fort Collins, and Greeley.  He is therefore very well situated to sample the  routinely impressive accomplishments of students at three of the largest public universities.  If he does not see this, well, dare I say it?  He must have his head up his ass.

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