Everyone on the Auraria Campus can breathe a sigh of relief. After several days of worrying and working feverishly to drum up support for the Auraria Science Building construction after its state funding was slashed to zero, the project is now back on track with a commitment that the state will fully fund the project.
At a March 25 press conference, Governor Bill Ritter and several key legislators announced that the science building renovation and expansion will be fully funded at nearly $63.5 million ($37.5 million in fiscal year 2008-09 and almost $26 million in the following fiscal year).
“Our state leaders have made an important statement to the young people of this state and to our business leaders that higher education and the economy go hand in hand," said Metro State President Stephen Jordan.
The mechanism for the funding will be an Auraria Science Building Certificate of Participation (COP), paid for by Federal Mineral Lease revenue. According to Christine Staberg of The Capstone Group, the College’s lobbyist, a COP is like a mortgage where you borrow the money, then make payments toward it.
“While the details are in flux, the governor is committed that the remainder of the project will be fully funded,” Staberg said, adding that there will be two bills that need to pass.
The fate of the already-begun project was in serious jeopardy when state revenue projections came in so low on March 21 that spending on all state-funded construction was cut to a dismal $16 million for next fiscal year and no funding at all for three years to come.
On Monday, March 24, the CEOs of Metro State, Auraria, CCD, UCD and CU System, held a press conference about the situation in front of the large hole that has been dug since construction began in December 2007. With reporters from all the major local news media listening, Metro State President Stephen Jordan, Auraria Executive Vice President Dean Wolf, CU System President Bruce Benson, UCD Chancellor Roy Wilson, Colorado Community College System President Nancy McCallin and Downtown Denver Partnership President and CEO Tamara Door all made the case for the project.
The two bills that must pass are likely to be introduced in the next two weeks.
Top of Page