It’s nice to be speaker of the House, even when you’re a lame duck.
The House Thursday gave easy preliminary approval to Speaker Mark Ferrandino’s proposal to inject a little performance funding into the budgets of Colorado colleges and universities.
The House passed the bill on a preliminary voice vote after only 12 minutes of discussion – mostly by Ferrandino – as it worked through a long evening calendar.
The bill sent ripples of apprehension through the higher education establishment when it was introduced in March (see story) and raised questions about creating winners and losers among universities and colleges, disrupting current initiatives of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and about whether the bill really proposed significant change.
But the Denver Democrat extensively reworked the bill after consulting with the higher ed lobby and executives, and nobody raised a peep about the bill on the House floor Thursday.
Starting in the 2015-16 budget year, the bill would require that 52.5 percent of state higher education funding be funneled through the College Opportunity fund tuition discounts for resident undergraduate students. The remaining funding, know in higher ed jargon as “fee for service,” would be allocated to institutions based on their roles and missions, graduations rates and student retention and on additional criteria to be developed by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
The bill also contains special provisions for the funding of professional programs such as medical and veterinary education and for specialized programs such as local district junior colleges and vocational schools.
The measure also contains provisions for suspension of its requirements if state funding declines dramatically, which has happened in the past to higher education.
Ferrandino has 24 House sponsors on the bill, including 13 Republicans. (There also are 17 Senate sponsors, including 10 Republicans.)
That may account for the lack of debate. “Almost half of you are cosponsors on this bill. Just remember when you’re voting,” Ferrandino said Thursday, urging passage of the bill.