Students will rally Monday at Capitol to stop state from slashing $300 million

The Legislature’s budget experts are changing the way the state sets its spending priorities, and Mesa State College students say they’re the ones who will bear the brunt of the new approach.

A move by the Joint Budget Committee to cut $300 million from spending for higher education marks “one of the most important policy shifts this state has seen in a very, very long time,” Associated Student Government President Adam Davenport said Thursday as about 70 Mesa State students gathered in Houston Hall. “It will alter the higher-education landscape for decades to come.”

Mesa State officials said they would have to consider tuition increases to make up for the rounds of cuts, if the budget committee’s proposal to reduce spending on colleges and universities by $300 million, or half of what had been budgeted, is approved by the Legislature.

Houston Hall was built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, “when government invested” in its people, Davenport said.

Davenport and several other Mesa State students plan to rally Monday at the state Capitol as the Senate takes up the budget proposal.

Nick Lopez, a sophomore from Longmont majoring in political science, said he chose Mesa State because of its lower cost and small class sizes.

Higher tuition would be difficult enough, Lopez said, but the loss of professors and programs would be “unacceptable.”

Charlotte Martinez of Denver, a mass-communications major, said she can’t afford to pay more, and her family headed by a single mother “can’t take out a second mortgage” for her college education.

Her fallback is to go to work as a waitress, Martinez said, “even though I know that would be a waste of my talent.”

The Joint Budget Committee said it hoped to backfill the cuts in higher education by selling off the reserves of quasi-governmental Pinnacol Assurance, a workers-compensation insurance carrier.

Business interests, however, oppose that move, saying the Legislature would be taking money owned by businesses, not taxpayers.


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