In a late afternoon announcement today, Gov. Bill Ritter said that
massive funding cuts to higher education are “not an option,” because
Colorado would forfeit $760 million from the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act. The governor pledged to work with the Joint Budget
Committee to protect higher education funding.
In other legislative news, the College is now one step closer to
offering master’s degrees, and the state senate passed two bills
related to using Pinnacol Assurance’s assets to balance the budget.
Gov. Ritter: Higher-ed funding protected from massive cuts
Ritter sent a letter to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee late
today, saying that new guidelines make it clear that a previous
proposal to cut higher education by $300 million would have dropped the
state below the $555 million level of FY05-06, which would make
Colorado ineligible for all $760 million in State Stabilization Funds
from the Recovery Act.
“Clearly, it would be counter-productive to cut higher education by
$300 million only to lose the entire $760 million in Stabilization
Funds,” Gov. Ritter said. “I will continue working with the JBC and the
legislature to close the budget gap. This includes ongoing discussions
with Pinnacol Assurance and exploring other ways to close the remaining
$300 million budget gap.”
Gov. Ritter said the Stabilization Funds mean that state funding for
higher education can be maintained at the original FY 2008-09 level of
$706 million for the current 2008-09 fiscal year and for the next two
years by using State Stabilization Funding from the Recovery Act. Metro
State received $49.7 million in FY 08-09.
Master’s degree bill passes third reading in Senate; will go to governor
Clearing its final hurdle in the state legislature today, HB-1295: A Bill for an Act Concerning Authorizing Metropolitan State College of Denver to Offer Master’s Degree Programs, which
would enable the College to expand its offerings to include master’s
degrees, passed in its third reading in the state senate. The bill will
now go to Gov. Bill Ritter for approval. If signed by Ritter, it will
(To see the bill’s legislative trajectory, go to http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics/CLICS2009A/csl.nsf/BillFoldersHouse?openFrameset.)
The bill would change existing legislation, which had prohibited
Metro State from offering graduate-level programs, to read as follows:
“In furtherance of its role and mission, Metropolitan State College of
Denver may offer master’s degree programs that address the needs of its
urban service area.” Metro State plans to initially explore adding
master’s programs in accounting, social work and teacher education.
Senate passes Pinnacol plan
bills passed by the state senate today, the legislature would take $500
million from Pinnacol worker’s compensation fund to balance the state
budget, covering a potential $300 million shortfall in higher education
spending. (See http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/artman/publish/budgetupdate7_twv6041009.shtml.)
SB-281 would put Pinnacol, a state-chartered, quasi-governmental
agency, under state control. SB-273 would force the transfer of $500
million from Pinnacol to the state. The bills will now go to the House.
Because of the tight time frame (with only four weeks left in the
legislative session), the House Appropriations Committee was slated to
hear the Pinnacol bills this afternoon.
On Friday, the state attorney general released an analysis
concluding that a law mandating the taking of money from Pinnacol could
not be defended in court. To read a Denver Post story about today’s passage of the Pinnacol bills, go to http://www.denverpost.com/ci_12133565.
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