A package of bills unveiled Tuesday and backed by Gov. Jared Polis lays out how the state will spend roughly $95 million in federal relief money to improve access to higher education and connect education to in-demand jobs.
March 30, 2022
The state would grant colleges and universities $105.3 million in general funding, 11.4% more than this year. It would also increase financial aid by $24.3 million.
The debate has divided groups that are often allies at the Capitol and could leave employees of K-12 school districts and those who work for public colleges and universities with different rights — or no new rights at all.
They include proposals on workforce training and concurrent enrollment, and a bill that would prevent colleges from holding back transcripts over small unpaid bills.
While promising to invest more — more in youth mental health, more in child care and preschool, more in K-12 schools, more in workforce training and higher education institutions — Polis’ speech did not go into details of new policy initiatives.
The budget restores nearly $500 million in higher ed spending that was cut last year and includes $100 million to help low-income and first-generation students.
Education represents the second largest lobbying interest at the Capitol, behind health care. There’s a lot at stake: Education — K-12 and higher ed — takes up about 45% of the general fund, yet Colorado still funds education at far lower levels than other states.
Colorado’s proposed budget also would provide more money to help students who have traditionally struggled to complete college.
The 2021 session is underway. Among the early bills is one that would reduce the role of the SAT and ACT in college admissions.
The scenario is worse than preliminary estimates predicting a $2 billion to $3 billion shortfall.