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Joint Budget Committee finalizes recommendations

Increase to MSU Denver’s operating budget, support for teacher prep and open educational resources among highlights.

By Cory Phare

March 27, 2018

Capitol buildingThe Colorado legislature’s Joint Budget Committee took action last week to finalize the state’s budget, with substantial implications for Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“MSU Denver has lots in play with the state budget,” said Christine Staberg, member of the University’s government relations team. “We’re grateful that the Governor recommended, and the Joint Budget Committee adopted, a substantial increase for higher education, financial aid and other areas of keen interest to our campus community.”

If the figures adopted by the JBC are approved by the full legislature, total institutional funds to MSU Denver in the coming year will be $56,485,329, reflecting a net increase of $4,858,726 (9.4 percent).

In addition, the JBC set aside an additional $18 million for higher education institutions, an estimated $2.8 million of which could come to MSU Denver. Details of the distribution of these funds will be sorted out with legislative leadership and run as a separate bill.

This is on the heels of President Janine Davidson’s January JBC appearance, where she noted that Colorado’s per-student funding has long disadvantaged MSU Denver.

“Despite a significant increase in funding this year over last, MSU Denver continues to be the state’s lowest funded four-year institution on a per-student basis,” said Staberg. “Our advocacy and outreach with lawmakers going forward must build a strong case for increased investment in our students. Student success at our institution is key to moving the needle on the state’s master plan.”

The JBC set aside $200,000 to fund HB 1189, which expands teacher-residency programs to address the ongoing teacher shortage; it also set aside $2 million in the Department of Higher Education for grant-funded targeted education-preparation initiatives. MSU Denver Dean of the School of Education Liz Hinde has been substantially involved in these efforts to position the University as a solutions leader.

Open educational resources were also widely supported, as the JBC voted unanimously to set aside $660,000 and 1 full-time-equivalent position in the Department of Higher Education for the continuation of the Open Education Resources Council (recently chaired by Emily Ragan, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry) and the development of OER for the benefit of institutions and students statewide. 

JBC staff also adopted the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s requests for need-based aid and work-study positions. MSU Denver estimates the approved budget would likely result in an additional $1,730,090 in financial aid for MSU Denver students (funding does not come directly to MSU Denver; it is made available to students in tuition/fees payment assistance).

Additionally, the JBC supported the recommendation to cap tuition increases at all institutions of higher education at 3 percent (with the exception of Fort Lewis College, capped at 5 percent).

The House of Representatives is taking up the budget; Senate proceedings are scheduled for the following week before returning results to the conference committee and on to Hickenlooper for approval.

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest in Roadrunner legislative advocacy? Check out today's other Early Bird story with President Davidson on what employees can do and become an MSU Denver Champion today!

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