Early budget shows steady state funding for higher ed

Cuts still a possibility despite governor's submission for 2011-12 fiscal year

While Gov. Bill Ritter's proposed budget for next year maintains the current level of funding for higher education, University of Colorado leadership remains concerned about the possibility of cuts.

"I don't think we can rest easy," said Kelly Fox, vice president and chief financial officer, during last week's meeting of the Board of Regents at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus.

"There has been so much controversy over the whole budget proposal," she told the regents during a university budget update. "I'm not convinced that additional cuts aren't coming."

Ritter submitted his budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year Nov. 1. It calls for $555 million in funding for higher education, the same as the current year.

In October, Ritter had submitted a plan for balancing the 2010-11 budget because of a forecast revenue shortfall. The plan included a shift of federal and state funding for higher education, but it did not change the level of funding.

Other financial indicators about the university as presented in an annual "dashboard" report to the Board of Regents:

  • Student FTE and student headcount have risen steadily since the 2003 fiscal year, with CU now educating 57,361 students – up 7,000 during the time period.
  • Some 60 percent of buildings throughout the CU system are 20 years old or older; 46 percent are at least 40 years old.
  • CU lags behind peers in overall funding over the past several years. The Anschutz Medical Campus has funding of 38 percent of the peer average; Colorado Springs and Denver, 72 percent; Boulder, 80 percent.
  • The university would need an additional $321 million to maintain the purchasing power it had in 2003.
  • All campuses have seen the enrollment of students of color rise at a faster rate than that of the total student population.