Students Plan To Protest $300 Million In Higher Education Cuts

Budget To Go Before State Senate Monday

College students are planning a rally at the state Capitol Monday morning to protest $300 million in budget cuts to higher education.

The budget must go before the state Legislature and to the governor’s desk before it is approved.

The cuts could mean tuition spikes as high as 30 percent at some community colleges and Universities of Colorado.

Lawmakers said the proposed cuts were designed to show Coloradans just how desperate the budget deficit is.

“We looked under every rock and turned over every corner to try and figure out what we could do and this was the solution we could come up with within the time frame that we had,” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino, a member of the Joint Budget Committee. “We got to a place where we couldn't find more cuts without kicking people out of nursing homes and things like that.”

Ferrandino said he hopes some vigorous debate among the Senate and House will bring new ideas to the table and relieve higher education from carrying the brunt of the $300 million in cuts.

“Hopefully by the end of these next two to two and a half weeks, we will have a solution that we do not have to make these serious cuts to higher education,” he said.

Ferrandino said the budget committee had hoped that the quasi-government agency Pinnacle would put some of its reserve toward shoring up the budget, but Pinnacle, so far, had resisted.

Ferrandino said lawmakers have not ruled out taking legal avenues to force Pinnacle to comply, but said he hopes a compromise can be reached without forcing the agency’s hand.