STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
COMMITTEE ON JOINT EDUCATION
|Time:||01:32 PM to 03:19 PM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|Department of Higher Education Briefing|
Joint Budget Committee Briefing
01:34 PM -- Department of Higher Education Briefing
David Skaggs, the executive director of the Department of Higher Education (DHE), introduced staff from the department, and briefly reviewed the functions of each staff member. Mr. Skaggs also shared a packet of information with the committee members (Attachment A).
Mr. Skaggs reviewed the graph regarding tuition and student fees on page 4 of Attachment A, as well as the graph comparing the state's higher education general fund as a percentage of the budget. He discussed the College Opportunity Fund (COF) with committee members, and shared that WICHE will be evaluating the COF program for the department. He noted that the study should be completed this year.
Mr. Skaggs explained that the department won two grants for college affordability and for nontraditional students. He also discussed recent initiatives surrounding Colorado GEAR UP, a federal grant program that assists at-risk students in considering and preparing for college. Mr. Skaggs discussed College Invest, and offered to take questions from the committee.
Senator King asked what percentage of students are coming in under the window (under the window students are students who do not meet the higher education admissions requirements (HEAR) but are still allowed to be admitted to state higher education institutions) and require remediation. Mr. Skaggs asked Dr. Julie Carnahan to come to the witness table. Mr. Skaggs referenced the annual remediation report that just was published, and that a bill will be introduced this session on concurrent enrollment, which is aimed to mitigate remediation. Dr. Carnahan explained that 20 percent of students admitted to four-year higher education institutions can be window admits, as prescribed in state law, but noted that the actual window size varies, citing that Colorado School of Mines admits 10 percent of window students. Senator King asked if those students need remediation, and if so, where do they get it. Dr. Carnahan explained that students needing remediation can do so at a community college or through extended studies programs at the four-year institutions. She also noted all freshman, whether resident and nonresident, can be admitted through the window.
President Groff asked if all students through the window need remediation. Dr. Carnahan explained that not all of them do, because window admits are also students who do not meet HEAR, but may not need remediation. Senator King asked if there is a longitudinal study on the success rate of window students. Dr. Carnahan asked clarification if he referred to remediation students. Senator King clarified that he was inquiring about all students admitted through the window. Dr. Carnahan replied that studies have been completed on remediation only, not on all students admitted through the window. She further noted that the remediation assessment is relatively new, dating back to 2005, so there is only four years of data. Senator King also asked about supports for students, particularly in the first year .
Senator Heath stated that he was pleased to see the attention focused on technical degrees in Colorado GEAR UP. Scott Mendelsberg, the executive director for GEAR UP, shared Senator Heath's enthusiasm for the importance of technical education programs. Representative Middleton asked if remediation is part of the discussions as Senate Bill 08-212 implementation.
Dr. Carnahan responded that remediation is part of the Senate Bill 08-212 discussions with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and explained that the first step in addressing remediation is establishing a definition for postsecondary and workforce readiness, and if that definition includes no remediation or a little remediation. She noted that the definition should be ready in late summer. Dr. Carnahan explained that the next step is selecting an assessment, which could be SAT/ACT, ACCUPLACER, or a different national test. Representative Middleton asked about funding for remediation work. Senator Bacon asked for the challenges in the process, in additional to budget constraints. Mr. Skaggs replied that the higher education system needs to be even more efficient with the dollars it receives and spends, and that there needs to be a fundamental examination of the cost models in higher education.
Senator King asked what students are receiving financial aid under the window. Dr. Carnahan said that it is not information she has available but that she will work to get that information. Senator King also asked how successful Colorado is in responding to the most needy students. Dr. Carnahan explained the department is engaged in looking at students to bring back through the nontraditional no more grant, which includes contacting the students to encourage them to finish their degree.
Senator Romer asked given the budget situation, is it possible that the state has contributed to the Colorado paradox because of revenue limits. Mr. Skaggs stated that it is a possibility, and that schools are looking at how to manage the budget cuts that are coming. Mr. Skaggs also referred to a chart on a poster board regarding the higher education impact on the Colorado economy (Attachment B).
Representative Massey also discussed how the state looks at remediation. Representative Schafer asked about tuition and finances for the most disadvantaged students. Dr. Carnahan explained students taking remedial coursework pay tuition to the community college and to the four-year institution.
Ed Nichols, from the Colorado Historical Society, provide an update to the committee, and shared the mission and work of the society. He highlighted information from the packet of information he provided to the members (Attachment C). He explained the breadth of programs, sites, and museums that are under the society's charge.
The briefing concluded and the committee took a brief recess to wait for the members of the Joint Budget Committee to arrive.
02:36 PM -- Joint Budget Committee Briefing
The committee came back to order after a brief recess. Representative Pommer introduced the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) members to the Joint Education Committee, and shared two handouts with committee members (Attachments D and E). Representative Pommer explained that health services, Higher Education, K-12 Education, and Corrections are the largest part of the budgets, and are mostly not available for budget cuts because of Amendment 23, Medicaid, the necessity to treat inmates humanely, but higher education does not have any protections in law. Representative Merrifield further noted that, notwithstanding the budget downturn, the higher education funding levels would have reached its 2001 level. Representative Pommer referred committee members to page 33 of the JBC budget briefing document (Attachment F). Pommer explained that the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) requested an $80 million increase in funding and The Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) requested a $ 30 million increase, but that there will be no increase in the higher education for the upcoming budget year.
Representative Marostica explained that he asked four universities -- The University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, and University of Northern Colorado -- to come forward with ideas for a public-private partnerships for funding models, where the institutions would eventually be off public funding. He noted that these universities are working on models right now. Senator Romer stated he believes the public-private model will foster access and believes it is time for an earnest conversation on higher education funding, specifically about how the state supports research institutions versus the smaller institutions. Representative Middleton expressed concern about the private-public partnership model.
Senator Bacon expressed concern with the private sector directing higher education, and stated if public education is for sale, the state needs to proceed with caution. Representative Merrifield also advised to proceed with caution. Representative Pommer continued the presentation by discussing the higher education maintenance fund.
Representative Pommer then discussed K-12 Education budget (Attachment G), and how the protections in Amendment 23 make it difficult to pare back the K-12 budget, which is approximately 40 percent of the state's General Fund. Representative Pommer reviewed the total program formula, which determines funding for each school district
Representative Massey asked how many counties have seen a loss in property values. Representative Pommer stated that he does not have the county information, but that he assumes that all of them have, and will result in a projected $ 900 million shortfall at the local level. Representative Massey said that it is problematic to only look at the local program contribution every year instead of two years, especially during an economic downturn Representative Pommer then reviewed the State Education Fund forecast and the changes in assessed values and it correlation to property tax revenue.
Representative Pommer reviewed the school finance supplemental, which he explained will be $26 million because the October pupil count was higher than anticipated, but he noted that the supplemental is not protected by the Amendment 23. Senator King asked how much the per pupil amount is funded above the requirement. Representative Pommer stated it was about 1/2 percent above, or $ 19.72 more per pupil, equating to about $ 20 million. Senator King recommended putting per pupil funding to required level, and cutting the $ 19.72. Representative Massey asked about the mill levy freeze, and Representative Pommer explained it could be a significant amount of money, but without having the court's decision, it is not possible to calculate at this point.
Senator Romer asked for JBC staff to think about Amendment 23 in a deflationary environment. Senator Hudak asked Representative Pommer if growth is still required by Amendment 23. Representative Pommer explained that not approving the supplemental would not put the state in violation of the Amendment 23 requirements. Senator King disagreed with Representative Pommer's assessment of the supplemental.
Representative Pommer also reviewed categorical funding and K-12 spending that is unrelated to Amendment 23 requirements (See Attachment E). He also reviewed some of the decision items for the Department of Education (see budget briefing document).
Representative Summers asked about funding for the BEST bill, regarding fund for school capital construction projects, which falls outside of Amendment 23-required spending. Representative Pommer stated an option would be to not fund BEST, and then put that money back into the State Public School Fund or the State Education Fund, to keep that fund solvent. Representative Pommer stated that not funding the BEST bill would have an immediate impact on the state's ability to balance the budget. Another option Representative Pommer offered for balancing the budget is to remove the cap on the amount of interest that can be spent from the State Public School Fund . Representative Massey what percentage of BEST funds are tied to a local match. Representative Pommer stated that he did not think that there were any.
Representative Merrifield shared information on the proposed federal stimulus package, and what is included for education (Attachment H).
The committee adjourned.