One of the most overlooked sources of inequality in Colorado is how little we invest in higher education. CU Boulder, the biggest university in our state as well as the 2nd biggest employer, received only 4.5% of it’s budget from direct state funding last year, forcing administrators to increase tuition and offer meager pay increases to its staff and faculty whose salaries haven’t been able to keep up with the rising cost of housing and price inflation in Boulder county, while forcing instructors and professors into classrooms filled with over 500 students who have difficulty getting feedback and mentorship from their teachers who are stretched incredibly thin.
This is having a huge impact on our community as we have entire generations of community graduating with life-altering levels of debt that will stop them from ever obtaining wealth, from ever purchasing a home, or from ever becoming financially stable.
Over 65% of CU Boulder staff now commute at least 10 miles to work, pushing out gentrification, and putting the cost of commuting on to its workers who were forced out of Boulder due to lack of affordable housing.
This is unsustainable and inexcusable.
I am co-chair of Staff Council at CU Boulder and I’m running for State Senate in Colorado to repeal TABOR, raise taxes on the 1%, and deliver an unprecedented investment in higher education to ensure that :
- Colorado residents can attend a Colorado university or community college tuition free
- workers and staff at universities and colleges have the benefits and access to affordable housing that they need
- the Board of Regents is reformed to include meaningful representation for those who are directly impacted by it’s policies.
Free In-State College Tuition
17 states across the country from conservative states like Oklahoma and to massive states like California and New York have all offered tuition free programs for the residents in their state. Last year, $264 million was collected by CU Boulder for in-state tuition from their students. State wide that total number was only $1.3 billion including community colleges. That’s absolutely affordable, and we should act now.
In total, the student loan debt outstanding in the country was $346 billion in 2004, and has ballooned to $1,386 billion as of late 2017. This represents a 302% increase in the total student loan debt in just 13 years. On average, the total student loan balance has increased by $80 billion each year since 2004.
Under our new tax structure, we plan to raise our state’s revenue and provide an unprecedented investment in our communities and one of the biggest return on our investment is on our students.
This is not only important for removing the economic prison that student loan debt has created to keep college graduates from participating in housing market, which is one of the main ways that Americans build wealth. Providing everyone the right to 4-year college education regardless of your income or economic class is crucial step in moving towards equality.
Education should be a right, and adopting this proposal would only increase the state’s budget by 3.5%. We’ll easily pay for that and more through our platform and proposals.
Staff & Faculty Benefits
Whether it’s salaries, housing, childcare, or shrinking healthcare and retirement benefits, staff and faculty at universities in Colorado have often been the first to carry the cost of the abysmal state funding they’ve received, forcing tens of thousands of workers in our community to move farther away, spend less in the local communities, and to still spend more than 100% of their monthly and annual income in order to survive.
You may not work at the university, but if you live in the front range, you know and absolutely understand it’s impact because it’s highly visible. More people are renting than ever before, co-workers and neighbors moving farther and farther away to somewhere cheaper, and the cycle repeats itself.
We need to support workers all across this state especially those at the 2nd biggest employer in the state, and one of the easiest ways to do that is treat workers who work for the state compassionately, and ensure they can afford to live in the area that they work.
- Minimum wage for professional staff of $25/hr
- Not-for-profit mortgages for first-time home buyers
- 12-month paid parental leave for all parents
- Fully funded retirement benefits
Campus Representation on the Board of Regents
The Regents of the University of Colorado, whose board was established under Article IX, Section 9 of the Constitution of Colorado, oversee the entire University’s budget, they hire the University’s president and other top University officials, and they set tuition and priorities. This takes the power away from those in the CU community and erases concerns shared by students, faculty, and staff, who do not have a seat at the table.
Our Board of Regents in Colorado needs to have meaningful representation for those who are directly impacted by it’s policies. Too often the concerns from students, faculty, and staff are ignored as tuition continues to rise, staff’s benefits are renegotiated, and faculty are expected to keep with unsustainable growth.
Representation matters greatly and we will propose a constitutional amendment to ensure that students, faculty, and staff get a say in who their leaders are, where the budget is spent, and what the vision of education looks like.