Budget in the books
Known as the Long Bill, the budget was signed Friday, making official a $66.6 million increase in funding for higher education across the state. Also included is $15 million for the last wing of the CU-Boulder Systems Biotech building, $9 million for the third phase of the UCCS Visual and Performing Arts building, and $500,000 in ongoing support for the CU Alzheimer’s Center.
“We applaud the cooperative spirit displayed by the Seventieth General Assembly in crafting this bill and its accompanying legislative items,” Hickenlooper said in a letter to lawmakers. “This budget crafts a careful balance between the public needs that accompany a growing economy and the fiscal prudence ahead of looming challenges caused by our conflicting constitutional provisions.”
Hickenlooper is advocating for lawmakers to recategorize hospital user fees so that they don’t count toward state revenue, a change that would enable the state to keep millions in TABOR refunds projected for the 2016-17 budget year. Higher education is a likely target for reduced funding should those refunds proceed unchanged.
In other news at the Capitol, where the Legislature is slated to end its 2015 session on Wednesday:
CU representatives last week took part in a bill-signing ceremony for HB 1295, an expansion of current law allowing CU to conduct electrical and plumbing inspections for its buildings on the Boulder campus. The new bill extends the authorization to CU Denver and CU Anschutz and to buildings on property owned by the Boulder, Denver or Anschutz campuses, not including contiguous buildings at the Auraria Campus. The bill allows CU to start its inspections on July 1, 2015.
HB 1296, which would have created a higher education sexual assault task force, was postponed indefinitely. As an alternative, which bill sponsors say will be more effective than new legislation, a statewide forum addressing sexual assault on college campuses will be planned for this summer. CU will be involved in organizing the event.