Ritter proposes $30 million budget cut from higher education

It is not yet known how Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposed budget cuts for the current fiscal year will impact CU’s campuses and administration.

For the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which began on July 1 of last year and continues through to June 30 of this year, Ritter plans to reduce state government spending toward higher education by $30 million.

A concrete answer is still needed in order to determine just how much of the $30 million cut is going to be coming from the CU budget.

“We’re in a waiting game right now,” said Bronson Hilliard, director of Media Relations at CU. “It’s really, really difficult to say how it’s going to affect us.”

According to Hilliard, the last time the state had to make budget cuts from higher education was in 2002, and resulted in a disproportionate amount of funding being taken from the CU campuses and administration. At the time, CU was receiving 28 percent of public funding for higher education in the state, and the university ultimately was impacted by 41 percent of the cuts.

This time around, it is estimated that the effects won’t be quite as severe. According to Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for the office of CU President Bruce Benson, CU will probably be on the receiving end of $7.9 million of the $30 million cut. This number is not final yet, but is the best information that McConnellogue can provide thus far.

McConnellogue and Evan Dreyer, spokesman for Ritter, explained that it is necessary for the state to reduce funding toward higher education as a result of the mandates the state constitution places on the allocation of state funding. According to McConnellogue, 80 percent of the state budget as it is today can’t be tapped into because of Colorado’s constitution.

Dreyer provided the example of Medicaid. The amount the state is currently allocating toward Medicaid cannot be reduced by law of Colorado’s constitution. It is for this reason that when the state is facing a billion dollar short fall as it is today, funds can only be taken from certain places, such as higher education, to make up for it.

CU students have differing reactions to the news that Ritter plans to make such a large reduction from funds allocated to higher education in Colorado.

“Hopefully it affects UCCS…a lot more,” said Ethan Vance, 19, a sophomore engineering physics major.

Other students say they can see how there must be cuts somewhere.

“Initially I would say that I wouldn’t agree with it but when…it’s in the state constitution that we can’t be getting the amount of money that we have been because of the…economy and everything right now I guess there’s really nothing that we can do about it,” said Emily Joern, 18, freshman undecided major.

Dustin Farivar, 22, a junior political science and sociology double major, said leaders must find a creative solution for funding. Farivar is also a Tri-executive for UCSU.

“What it really calls for is a new and innovative solution to fund education in Colorado,” Farivar said of the state’s budget deficit.

McConnellogue said the process is a painful one and that the state will have to make more budget cuts in the next fiscal year.

“The state just does not have the money to fund us,” he said.

As far as when the university know just how much of the $30 million will be taken from the CU budget, McConnellogue said he predicted that the answer will come in the coming weeks.

“I suspect…we’ll be pretty solid with it by the beginning of February,” he said.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sara Morrey at Sara.morrey@colorado.edu.

Sara Kassabian

Sara is a senior news-editorial major. She has previously been the editor-in-cheif, and edited the opinion, news and entertainment sections of the publication. Sara has been working in journalism for six years, writing about everything from politics to pornography. She is pursuing a minor in philosophy and is participating in the International Media certificate program. Outside of classes and chasing down leads, Sara likes to collect vinyl records, read books, tell stories, lurk the Boulder Humane Society website and be generally enthusiastic. She hopes to someday apply her education to a career that requires writing, editing or reading in her own private library.

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