Wednesday, February 6, 2013

State's colleges and universities get financial boost from two advancing bills

Two bills that would give a financial boost to Colorado's public universities and colleges are moving steadily toward the law books.

HB 13-1144, which makes permanent a cigarette-specific supplemental sales tax and devote the annual revenue it produces to higher education, is on the way to the Senate. The bill would add about $28 million per year to the state's budget for colleges and universities.

The measure was approved by the House Monday on a 40-24 vote. The chamber's caucuses divided on the bill.

Votes to pass the bill came primarily from majority Democrats, but also from six of the chamber's 28 Republicans. They included Kathleen Conti of Littleton, Don Coram of Montrose, Cheri Gerou of Evergreen, Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch, Carole Murray of Castle Rock, and Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling.

The opposition came from the other 22 Republicans and two Democrats - Reps. Crisanta Duran and Dan Pabon of Denver. Interestingly, Duran is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Meanwhile, SB 13-090 sailed out of the Senate on the same day. The supplemental appropriations bill would increase this year's budgets for the state's institutions of higher learning by more than $9 million.

The vote was 27-6. All of the opponents were Republicans. They included Sens. Bill Cadman, Owen Hill, and Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs, Kevin Grantham of Canon City, Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch, and Scott Renfroe of Greeley.

SB 13-090 will next be considered by the House appropriations committee.