Benson: Governor’s budget request ‘great news for CU’

Hickenlooper recommending $30 million increase to higher education
By Staff

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget request announced Nov. 1 will infuse new money into the University of Colorado system, said CU President Bruce D. Benson.

The governor recommended a $30 million increase in state funding to the higher education operating budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14. CU’s share would be approximately $9 million if an allocation plan agreed to by all the higher education institutions is implemented.

“We appreciate the governor’s clear commitment to ensuring that higher education continues its substantial contributions to the economy, health and culture of our state and beyond,” Benson said. “We are also grateful for the leadership of Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who has been a champion of higher education in his role as executive director of the state Department of Higher Education.”

The recommended increase marks the first time since FY 2008-09 that higher education’s budget would increase.

“The past several years have been difficult times for budgets for higher education, so this is great news for CU and all of higher education,” Benson said. “We still face challenges in the coming years, but the clear message today is that the governor sees higher education as a top priority and that our colleges and universities are integral to Colorado’s well-being.”

Benson joined public college and university presidents from around the state who signed a letter to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education that commended the governor for his budget. In addition to much-needed investments in higher education, the governor’s budget also includes important increases for K-12, economic development, infrastructure, public safety, mental health and other critical programs.

“Colorado’s economy is outperforming other states,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “This gives us the ability to restore some cuts and modestly increase funding in critical areas of the state’s budget. But we still have a long way to go to fully recover from this recession.”

The FY 2013-14 proposed budget is $21.9 billion, of which $8.1 billion is from the General Fund. Relative to the FY 2012-13 appropriation, these amounts represent increases of $1.1 billion (5.4 percent) in total funds and 5 percent ($387 million) in the General Fund.

The rebound in revenue in the General Fund finally exceeds the pre-Great Recession peak this year (FY 2012-13). But when inflation and population growth are accounted for, expected revenue is still $1.1 billion, or 14.4 percent, below the FY 2007-08 level.

“When you have this big of an economic downturn, it takes time to dig your way out,” Hickenlooper said. “That is why we’ve been so focused on finding efficiencies, pursuing statewide efforts to streamline a wide range of processes and consolidating government functions wherever appropriate. At the same time we have taken bold steps to increase the state’s reserve fund to help protect against the inevitable next economic slowdown.”