Posted tagged ‘Colorado higher education’

Lawmakers tackle State Budget in better economic climate

March 27, 2013

Legislators have begun reviewing SB 230, the state budget bill called the “Long Bill,” as the state’s economy continues to improve. Next year’s state budget will be about $1 billion larger than the current year’s because of increased tax revenues. State officials say job growth is strong, though the unemployment rate is not declining as rapidly as desired and more than $1 billion in across-the-board federal government cuts are expected to negatively impact our state’s economic growth.

Unlike states where the Governor initiates the state budget bill,  this is the job of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC) in Colorado. The bipartisan committee’s six members create the annual appropriations bill for state government operations. JBC members include three from the Senate Appropriations Committee and three from the House Appropriations Committee.

This year’s JBC members are Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton), Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs), Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), and Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-Evergreen). Sen. Steadman chairs the JBC; Rep. Levy is the vice-chair.

The Long Bill review should not be as painful as the same review was in each of the last four years when state tax revenues tanked during the recession and the Legislature had to slash budgets. The state’s improved fiscal health means more money for many state programs. P-12 could see an increase of about three percent, though this is far short of the money needed to fully apply Amendment 23, the constitutional provision requiring annual increases for education.

The Long Bill includes about $30 million more in support for Colorado’s public colleges and universities, bringing the state’s support up to about one-quarter of total higher education spending, most of which is funded through student tuition. It appears there will be more money for higher education construction and maintenance, as well.

The Senate deals with the Long Bill this week, followed by consideration by the House the week of April 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CEA backs ASSET to give all students access to higher ed’s opportunities

January 15, 2013

Legislators will introduce the Colorado ASSET bill today in the State Senate. A broad group of supporters back the bill, including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization; the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF); Padres y Jóvenes Unidos; Stand for Children and Together Colorado parent groups; Metropolitan State University of Denver; the Bell Policy Center; SEIU Local 105; and CEA.

All are members of the Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA), the coalition that brings people and organizations together in support of students’ access to higher education regardless of their immigrant status. HEAA members are working with a wide range of legislators to pass the ASSET bill on its third try in the General Assembly. They will hold a news conference at rally today at the State Capitol at noon.

Colorado ASSET (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) will give undocumented students the opportunity to pay in-state tuition provided they meet specific criteria, including attending a Colorado public or private high school for a minimum of three years; graduating from that high school or obtaining a Colorado GED; earning admission to a Colorado college or university; and seeking legal immigration status if not already doing so.
We will follow ASSET as it moves through the Legislature toward final passage and Governor Hickenlooper’s signature. To learn more about ASSET, visit the coalition’s web site.

 

Senate passed “ASSET” bill on second reading

February 11, 2012

The State Senate passed SB 15, nicknamed ASSET, on second reading yesterday. The bill would create a third category of state college/university tuition called standard-rate tuition (not in-state tuition, not out-of-state tuition) to be offered to a student who attended three or more years of high school in Colorado and graduated or obtained a GED and is accepted at one of Colorado’s higher ed institutions within 12 months from graduation.

The bill is intended to help undocumented students get a college education. It will also help the state’s economy by adding revenue for higher education.

SB 15 would not allow these students to access state or federal financial aid, and it allows colleges and universities to opt out of creating the standard-rate tuition category if they do not want to provide it.

CEA supports the bill and is working with the Higher Education Access Alliance coalition to pass it this year.

Sen. Michael Johnston (D-Denver) said in his testimony for SB 15, “While it may take the federal government to fix the citizenship problem, it takes Colorado to fix the access to education problem.” Sen. Johnston is a co-sponsor of the bill along with Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo).

Sen. Giron said, “I’m trying just a little bit harder to make sure we pass Colorado ASSET this year. This bill will not cost taxpayers a single dime – even the Denver Post is in full support. Please support our Americans in waiting, many of whom are in the process of becoming legal citizens but are having their education halted unnecessarily.”

The next stop for the bill is third (final) reading in the Senate which may occur Monday, February 13. Assuming the bill clears the Senate, it will be assigned to a House committee. We expect a much tougher job convincing House members to vote for the bill.

You can learn more about the bill and who supports it at the Higher Education Access Alliance.

College students could get credit for what they learned in jobs, the military, and their communities

January 24, 2012

Tomorrow the House Education Committee will hear HB 1072. The bill is called Higher Education Prior Learning Assessments.

Proposed by the Legislature’s Educational Success Task Force, the bill’s sponsors are Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs) and Sen. Keith King (R-Colorado Springs). HB 1072 requires Colorado’s Higher Education Commission (CCHE) to develop criteria for awarding credit to a college student who has “prior learning” through work experience, military service, community involvement, or independent study — prior learning acquired after high school as an adult. If the Legislature approves the bill, CCHE would do the prep work so the program could go into effect for the 2013-14 academic  year.

The bill is premised on the idea that adult learners, mobile learners, and nontraditional students are likely to come to college with learning acquired outside of traditional classrooms. They have acquired their learning from noncredit programs, corporate training, time spent in the military, volunteering, community workshops, and many other kinds of activities.

Often these students  come to college and are required to pay tuition for courses in things they already know — and they consider it a waste of their time and their money.

HB 1072 calls for Prior Learning Assessments to be used to measure what a college student has learned outside of college by evaluating whether that learning is college level and how many college credits it is worth.

The bill will start tomorrow in the House Education Committee. If the House Ed Committee passes the bill, it goes to the House Appropriations Committee and then to the full House for a vote before it goes over to the Senate for consideration.

Crazy idea? Practical idea? What do you think?

Standard-rate tuition for undocumented students will help Colorado thrive

January 11, 2012

We are excited about the introduction of Colorado ASSET today in the Legislature. CEA tried to get ASSET passed last year and we plan to continue to work with a statewide coalition on the bill again this year. This year’s sponsors are Senators Michael Johnston (D-Denver) and Angela Giron (D-Pueblo).

Colorado ASSET creates a third category of state college/university tuition called standard-rate tuition. To be eligible for this rate, a student must attend three or more years of high school in Colorado and graduate or obtain a GED. The student will have to be accepted at one of Colorado’s institutions of higher learning within 12 months after graduating/earning a GED.

In speaking about the bill, Sen. Giron said she knows it is the right thing to do, and it’s also the economically smart thing to do to ensure that Colorado’s economy has a foundation of educated and diverse workers.

We are especially cognizant of higher education budget cuts and think that ASSET makes sense because it adds much-needed tuition revenue to the state’s financially strapped schools, potentially as much as hundreds of thousands of additional tuition dollars.

An interesting aspect of the bill is that ASSET students wouldn’t be eligible for state or federal financial aid – so no taxpayer dollars would be used for the program. Plus higher education institutions can opt out of creating the standard-rate tuition category.

You can get more information about Colorado ASSET at the Colorado Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA).