Saturday, May 2, 2009

Save higher ed now, even if it is a Republican idea

Finally, a Republican-inspired headline in Colorado I can like! "CU slashes jobs, salaries," The Denver Post screamed Saturday.

The headline was inspired by University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, a Republican. Benson, anticipating like a good businessman should the funding shortfalls CU will face if the state's financial problems with higher education continue, announced budget cuts that will be inevitable once federal stimulus dollars finally get used up.

It's no shame to anticipate the worst of times when a business budgets for its future; and even though public education is a liberal and Democratic cause, the value of having a loyal opposition can be seen in Benson's businesslike attention to CU's money problems.

Now, if Benson holds true to Gov. Bill Ritter's predecessor's philosophy as governor, and maintains as low a tuition for in-state CU students as possible, Benson will have performed well in the footsteps of Bill Owens; and Colorado will be glad to thank both of them for their foresight.

This, perhaps, is the first time I can adequately explain my vote to endorse Bob Beauprez for governor over Bill Ritter way back when I was editor of ColoradoBiz magazine.

I thought then, and still think now, that Beauprez then was more qualified to be governor than Ritter, although I have to admit Gov. Ritter has done as good a job as anyone has a right to expect from a rather unexciting politician since his election.

Benson's budget cuts prove, as Beauprez did back during the 2006 race for chief executive of Colorado, that Republican-inspired frugality can be a good thing, even if Republican anti-tax philosophy is misguided -- no, ... make that insane.

Ritter signed a $17.9 billion budget bill on Friday, and, during the legislative session, did a good job negotiating toward a reasonable way to finance state government during the 2009-2010 fiscal year. "Just as families and businesses all across Colorado are doing, we made some very tough choices," Ritter was quoted by The Post as saying when he signed the legislation.

Making hard decisions is what Benson is doing as well. His actions may have some political side effects and overtones, but they also represent effective leadership in the face of dire circumstances, circumstances Ritter had promised business he would fix during his term.

Colorado higher education deserves a permanent fix of its money problems. So do Colorado college students.

"There's always next year" is no longer a face-saving slogan that can be used by the Denver Broncos or the Denver Nuggets. It seems it will always remain words to be invoked by a state lawmaker.

With the signing of the budget bill, however, next year is already here.

And once again voters may take to the polls to fix public higher education's problems in Colorado before elected officials gather up the gumption to do it themselves.

At least Bruce Benson is looking ahead.

As The Post put it: Benson couldn't "wait and hope everything will turn out OK."

Colorado's elected officials ought to follow his example.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob,

    My passion for CU or any higher educational institution is not very deep in terms of political discussion. A higher education was very affordable when you and I went in the 60"s. Ask yourself "What has really changed?" to create all this commotion over more funding.

    Why not remove curriculums and programs? I am a David Horowitz believer so you are not going to like any of what I would like to say.

    Stay with the core curriculums. English, Literature, American and World history (in its purest form), Science, Math, Art, Medical science, Social science(in its purest form), anthropology, archaeology, engineering, architecture, IT.

    If the students choose to learn about social engineering, religion, specific cultures and other fringe areas of study let the students pay full cost of those curriculums. NO government funding...Period. Make it a PAYGO type system The special interest groups have plenty of $$$$ to donate for those programs. Just look at the DC lobbiest corps. It would be interesting to see if they would put their money where their interests are.

    I am tired of the Ward Churhills of the world getting paid and supported by taxpayers.

    What you have just posted would become a non-issue and you and others could focus your efforts on cirtical thinking topics like the war in Afghanistan and why we are still there and esculating it??? By the way have you seen the body counts on MSNBC since BHO has taken office. It is getting ugly....