Plan trims college funds to ‘05 level

A new proposal by the Department of Higher Education would cut state funding for Mesa State College next year by nearly 20 percent.

The department’s head, Rico Munn, told the Joint Budget Committee on Wednesday that returning each state college and university to 2005-06 funding levels in 2010-11 would save money and still qualify Colorado for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 dollars.

Under that formula, Mesa State would receive 82 percent of the amount budgeted for the college this year. The state allocated $19.8 million to Mesa State in 2005. This year, the Legislature budgeted $24 million to the college but ended up backfilling that amount with $4.1 million from the federal government.

Since autumn 2005, the school has added 981 students and more faculty.

Mesa State President Tim Foster and Pat Doyle, the college’s vice president of finance, attended Wednesday’s meeting in Denver. They could not be reached Thursday afternoon, but college spokeswoman Dana Nunn said both men are looking at the proposal as one of many to come and not a finality.

“We’re in the early stages of this. Nothing’s a done deal until the Long Bill is signed,” Nunn said.

The Long Appropriations Bill outlines budgeting for state departments and usually is signed in April or May, near the end of each legislative session.

Mesa State will continue to search for other revenue sources, such as tuition increases, grants and federal money, in case state funding decreases, Nunn said. Any cuts to the college will steer clear of affecting the classroom as much as possible, according to Nunn.

“It’s not like a manufacturing plant where you can say, ‘OK, we’re going to shut down the Detroit branch’ ” and save money, Nunn said. “With the liberal arts, even if you did away with a program, you’d have to offer the classes, so there’s not really any cost savings.”


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