By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado
Fearful of extensive layoffs and potentially deep cuts to student services, leaders of Colorado’s public colleges and universities are pressing lawmakers to restore $493 million the state chopped off their budgets last year.
The academic leaders are campaigning as if the health, and perhaps existence, of their campuses are at stake. And with good reason: When Colorado slashed their budgets during two past recessions, the colleges never fully recovered.
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Metropolitan State University of Denver President Janine Davidson said college presidents are presenting a united front on the restoration of funding because “at some point you have to say this isn’t working.”
And Adams State University President Cheryl Lovell said colleges did their part in balancing budgets last year and a return to the 2019-20 funding level would be a positive step for colleges and their students.
“We’re unified in that message,” Lovell said.
Gov. Jared Polis and House and Senate leaders have said they value returning the 58% cut that the state inflicted last year to help balance a budget as the pandemic ate into revenues and raised expenses.
But some lawmakers have stalled, saying they want to wait for budget forecasts.