Update on Budget, November 3, 2015
As you may have heard, Governor Hickenlooper proposed a Fiscal Year 2017 budget yesterday that will cut state spending by $373 million, with a potential $20 million cut to higher education overall. For our university, this would translate to an anticipated funding cut of roughly $3.78 million.
Of course, this is only the beginning of a six-month process that won’t be settled until the Long Bill is finalized by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor in the spring. In the meantime, we continue our own campus budget modeling, and our existing draft budget includes a $2 million surplus that provides a solid basis from which to start assessing the impact of these potential cuts. In light of the Governor’s announcement, we’ll be looking at the possibility of deferring some expenses to future years and reducing our costs via a 2% internal reallocation exercise. While the state is indicating it won’t be capping tuition rate increases for next year, our thinking at this point is to continue with the lower tuition increases (5% resident undergraduate, 4% non-resident undergraduate, 3% resident and non-resident graduate) that we’ve been modeling for the Board of Governors and discussed with ASCSU last week. Of course, this and every aspect of our own CSU budget will be subject to debate as we move through the budget process. That draft budget — now an outdated draft that we’ll be amending as we move forward — is online on the budget updates and communications page.
For those who inexplicably enjoy this stuff, I invite you to try out our budget balancing tool and try turning the various knobs to see the kinds of choices and decisions we’ll be weighing over the coming months. In addition, there will be plenty of opportunities for all of us to engage in the process and lots of legislative baseball yet to be played before this budget is final. (No Cubs jokes here, please. It’s just too soon.)
Among the issues that will be at the center of the legislative debate is the hospital provider fee that triggers the Tabor revenue limit that potentially will result in taxpayer refunds ranging from about $34-$108 under Colorado law. Another significant issue for our own campus — and likely for legislators — is that the state’s proposed budget includes no recommended annual salary increase for state classified employees. This is obviously a serious concern and will be a major factor as we evaluate salary increases for all employee groups.
While not optimal, such cyclical budget changes are not new to the state of Colorado or to CSU, and I’m confident that by working with our faculty and staff councils and ASCSU leadership, engaging our elected officials and putting our heads together, we will again find a balance that keeps alive the access to excellence that has always been the promise of Colorado State University. Please engage in the conversations as they unfold, and stay tuned for further developments.
Dr. Tony Frank