Governor’s budget proposal has good news for CU, higher education

Hickenlooper recommending $20.5 million increase for institutions
By Staff

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed state budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year brings unexpected good news for the University of Colorado and higher education across the state.

The proposed $28.5 billion state budget is 3.3 percent above the current year’s expected budget. It recommends a $20.5 million increase for higher education, including $3.8 million for financial aid. Of the $20.5 million increase, the CU system would receive about $7.8 million, an increase of 4.2 percent. The statewide average increase for institutions of higher education would be about 2.5 percent.

The governor’s proposal is only the first step in the months-long budgeting process. His request was prepared by the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) and delivered Nov. 1 to the Joint Budget Committee of the General Assembly.

“Colorado’s economy continues to grow, though more slowly than in recent years,” Hickenlooper said. “Within the confines of the competing requirements of the State Constitution and formulas in current law, this budget prioritizes the fiscal priorities of the state with a modest 3.3 percent increase.”

The bulk of the appropriation to the Department of Higher Education supports the 29 public colleges and universities and three technical colleges in the state system. The proposed increase of $20.5 million General Fund for the Colorado public higher education system will address operating costs and health care increases for institutions and will help moderate tuition increases for students and families.

With the General Fund increase, it is anticipated that tuition increases will average around 6 percent statewide, with variation among the institutions ranging from 5 percent to 7.7 percent, according to the governor’s office. The resident undergraduate tuition cap for CU campuses would be 5 percent.

Other notes from the proposed budget of interest to higher education:

  • $20 million for many level 1 controlled maintenance projects. No funding for new higher education construction projects.
  • Restoring the General Fund reserve to 6.5 percent. This will restore the reserve that is being spent down in the current year to keep the FY 2016-17 budget balanced.
  • Reduction of $195 million to the hospital provider fee. This reduction is being proposed to reduce state revenues in order to eliminate what would have been a $175 million TABOR surplus. The reduction would result in $195 million less funding for Colorado hospitals that serve indigent patients.
  • 2.5 percent salary increase for state employees.

The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee now begins reviewing the governor’s proposal. The committee will start meeting later this month.

Click here for the governor’s entire budget transmittal letter.

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