Higher-education institutions in Colorado, including Metropolitan State University of Denver, got welcome news last week from the state’s legislative budget committee, which allocated $132 million to the state’s universities and colleges. 

As lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee wrestled with a potential $170 million shortfall, the outlook for higher-ed funding had been uncertain. 

But the committee identified funds to help cover the shortfall while allowing MSU Denver and other higher-ed institutions to limit tuition increases to 3%, Kaycee Gerhart, vice president of Government and External Affairs, told members of the University President’s Cabinet. Provost Laura Niesen de Abruña, Ph.D., led the meeting on behalf of President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., who was unable to attend. 

A closer look

The Joint Budget Committee’s finalized budget proposal also includes funding for several MSU Denver priorities: 

  • $132 million allocated for higher education statewide 
  • 3% cap on tuition increases for Colorado residents   
  • $8.4 million for a new student information system 
  • $6 million for a new home for the Classroom to Career Hub 

Why it matters

The higher-education funding in the budget legislation, known as the Long Bill, are close to covering the University’s projected minimum cost increases, said Jim Carpenter, MSU Denver chief financial officer. “That means that we will be able to cover mandatory costs and then dedicate some funding to other priority budget items.” 

In her annual Budget Charge, Davidson outlined priorities that include compensation, fiscal health, student success, connecting to Colorado’s workforce and investing in infrastructure.  

What happens next: 

  • The Colorado House is expected to soon pass the budget bill and send it to the Senate for debate. 
  • A conference committee of House and Senate members must reconcile any changes the Senate makes to the House version of the bill by mid-April. 
  • Upon approval of the reconciled bill, it would head to Gov. Jared Polis for his signature or veto in late April. 

The Health Institute Certificate of Participation bill, which would help fund MSU Denver’s Health Institute Tower, is moving smoothly through the House. It still needs to pass the full House and Senate before going to the governor’s desk for signature.  

Kaycee Gerhart praised collaborative efforts to advocate for affordability, MSU Denver and its students.  

“This session is a testament to the legislature’s growing understanding of the value of higher ed,” said Gerhart. “It is thanks to the work happening on campus that we could share those stories with the legislature.” 

Other items discussed: 

  • All 2030 Strategic Plan pillars are on schedule and tracking as they should. Interested individuals can keep tabs on the progress though the Office of Strategic Initiatives website. 
  • Presidential Faculty Fellow Kelly Evans, Ph.D., audited the Presidential Advisory Councils:  
    • The Built Environment and Infrastructure Council will collaborate with Strategy. 
    • Much of the work of the Academic Excellence and Student Success Council is being done through Student Success Launch. 
    • Cabinet members still see a need for the Culture and Workplace Council. 

Everyone is invited to use this Qualtrics link to provide feedback on any topics discussed at the President’s Cabinet. The feedback period will close April 17, one week prior to the next Cabinet meeting.