Transparency legislation advances in House

Lawmakers considering whether to require more detailed financial reporting from higher ed

A bill that would require greater detail in existing reporting of financial information at institutions of higher education advanced this week in the State House.

House Bill 1252, Transparency of Higher Ed Financial Information, initially called for the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, the University of Northern Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines to be added to the statewide financial transparency act. It requires institutions to maintain a searchable database of all revenues and expenditures.

The bill also stipulates that additional information on faculty members – such as number of classes taught, amount of grant money received, reimbursement amounts including travel – be provided in the database.

Before the bill advanced from the House Committee on Education to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week, it was amended to include all higher ed institutions that receive College Opportunity Fund money, therefore affecting several more four-year and two-year public and private institutions across the state.

The School of Mines has publicly stated that it opposes the measure because of increased costs associated with establishing and maintaining a more complex database.

Vice President of University Communication Ken McConnellogue said CU supports transparency and noted the university already provides a database with much of the information called for in the bill, including faculty and staff compensation. “Our concern is with the fiscal note attached to the bill,” he said. Frequent updating and reporting of a more detailed database would require additional resources at CU campuses and throughout the system – up to roughly $500,000 per school to launch, then up to $300,000 annually to maintain.

Speaking for themselves rather than the entire board, Board of Regents members Sue Sharkey, R-Windsor, and James Geddes, R-Sedalia, told the education committee on Monday that they support the transparency bill. It’s possible that the regents could vote whether to support a resolution in favor of the bill during the board’s next meeting, tentatively set for March 14.