President's Campus Communication 4/3/09

Dear Colleagues,

I am following up on the brief note I sent you Wednesday evening about the state budget. It’s important to put this information in the context of UNC’s total budget. State funding provides approximately $44 million of our $177 million operating budget, about one-quarter of our revenue.

As I mentioned, the Joint Budget Committee has been struggling to bring the fiscal year 2010 budget in line with declining revenue trends. As a result, there has been a significant change in how the state is considering funding higher education.

The JBC has proposed cutting approximately $400 million from the state higher education budget, which is the antithesis of the economic recovery priorities set by Colorado and the nation. This would fundamentally change the nature of public higher education in Colorado. If institutions have to dramatically raise tuition and cut programs, we will no longer be able to serve the students who most need to attend college in Colorado. In fact, it’s unlikely that many of these students could attend college at all.

The JBC has also suggested that the higher education budget could be backfilled with $300 million from reserves managed by the state’s workers compensation insurance program, Pinnacol Assurance. It is not UNC’s role to debate the public policy merits of taking the Pinnacol reserve, but we have significant concerns about long-tem viability of the reserve as source of funding for higher education.

Our message to state legislators and the Governor is that this is not a prudent way to fund higher education. Pitting higher education against Pinnacol or anyone else is unproductive, and we are calling on state leaders to go back to the drawing board to find a solution to the budget crisis now that they understand the extent of next year’s revenue shortfall.

I want to assure you that we are actively engaged with legislators and all of our higher education colleagues at the statehouse. At this point, we expect the Long Bill (the annual state appropriations bill, which would include the proposed cuts) to be introduced Monday. We will continue working throughout this process to reach a rational state budget for next year.

I will continue to share any new developments with you. You can also access recent financial information, campus communications and an electronic feedback form online at http://www.unco.edu/pres/ under the Financial Matters link.

Sincerely,

Kay Norton