ASC Trustees oppose Amendments 60, 61, Prop. 101

(08-31-2010)

The Adams State College Board of Trustees passed a resolution opposing Amendment 60, Amendment 61, and Proposition 101 at their Aug. 27 meeting on campus. In consideration of the detrimental fiscal impact these measures would have on public higher education, the Board's resolution "urges the defeat of these measures at the Nov. 2, 2010, General Election."

According to an analysis compiled by the Colorado Legislative Council, the measures would have the cumulative effect of eliminating most state support for public higher education. The alternatives would be privatization of state higher education institutions and very large tuition and fee increases.

"If passed, these proposals would lead to the termination of the majority of state services. Revenues once used for prisons, public safety, higher education, and other publicly funded programs would be either eliminated or largely directed to K-12 to fill in the hole created by loss in property tax support," said Board Chair Tim Walters. "Regardless of an individual's political leaning, I would think that these draconian measures seem preposterous. Without funding for public services, we as a society will fail to exist. Not only will these proposals jeopardize the viability of public universities in our state and the ability to protect our citizens, but they will severely impair the ability to finance infrastructure like highways, schools, and water treatment systems. These two amendments and proposition are ill conceived and mean spirited. As a board of trustees, we support a resolution to defeat these proposals."

Chair of the ASC Board of Trustees Tim Walters

Chair of the ASC Board of Trustees Tim Walters

Adams State continues to be one of the most affordable four-year colleges in Colorado, in keeping with its mission of providing educational access for underserved state residents. In the current budget year, Adams State receives 35 percent of its total funding from the state general fund, according to Bill Mansheim, Adams State Vice President for Finance and Governmental Relations.

"We've managed budget cuts in recent years by freezing salaries, eliminating positions, implementing small tuition increases, and increasing enrollment," he added. "We've been creative up to this point, but I can't fathom a plan B where we can manage a cut of the magnitude that these initiatives would stimulate. They will drive the total elimination of our state support."

The Legislative Council's analysis estimates various provisions in the measures would create a $1.6 billion reduction in state sales taxes, income taxes, and telecommunications fees. This would result in a total 22.6 percent reduction in General Fund allocations to K-12 education, higher education, health care, corrections, and programs to help low-income, elderly, and disabled residents. Those areas currently account for 96 percent of the General Fund.

Amendment 60 calls for a 50 percent reduction in school district non-debt mill levies by 2020 and would force the state to make up the loss in K-12 public education; this would effectively be at the expense of higher education. The amendment would also require all state enterprises, including public colleges, to pay property taxes, while Amendment 61 would prohibit them from borrowing money in any form. This would prevent colleges from financing new educational facilities, classroom space, or student centers. The council noted this provision would have a very negative ripple effect on the construction industry and increase state unemployment.

The Adams State Board's resolution notes that "the state has reduced its support for resident higher education students to historically low levels in recent fiscal years" and that "the College has taken actions to reduce expenditures to accommodate reduced state support." The resolution concludes that "placing additional restrictions on the state's General Assembly limits the flexibility of the state to respond to economic opportunities as well as to emergencies of all forms."

Read details from Legislative Council.

By Julie Waechter