Governor Ritter released his administration’s proposed FY11 (next fiscal year) budget today, and there are positives and negatives in the proposal for Colorado higher education and for CSU. On the good news front, assuming the distribution of resources between higher education institutions remains similar to past years, the FY11 budget would maintain our campus base funding at approximately $100M — the 2006 “maintenance of effort” restoration required by the federal ARRA legislation. Current projections show this level holding into FY12 — after the ARRA “maintenance of effort” requirement is past. While it’s clearly too early for us to have a great deal of confidence in FY12 projections, this tentative approach once again demonstrates the Governor’s strong commitment to higher education, even in light of our state’s very real fiscal struggles.

Silver linings don’t come without clouds, however, and the bad news for FY11 is that Colorado has had to use ARRA stimulus funds at a greater than projected rate in FY10, so the full $30M backfill the State had hoped would be available for our campus in FY11 will likely shrink to $20M.

Obviously, this is not great news for our state, Colorado higher education, or for CSU, but it’s still better news then some were predicting earlier this week. Our previous planning scenarios would have been sufficient under the previous circumstances, but we’ll now have to look at ways of modestly accelerating our revenue increases and expense reductions while doing all we can to preserve the quality and affordability of a CSU education. The entire budget situation remains more fluid than any of us would like, so we’ll need to keep our eyes on the horizon in terms of prudent planning. I’ll meet with Cabinet early next week to refine our guidance to campus units in advance of the Planning and Budget hearings in February.

In many ways, although the numbers have changed (again), our basic task remains constant: We’ll all have to work hard to demonstrate cost containment and value to the people we exist to serve. We have reserves remaining and have yet to tap internal bridge scenarios such as furloughs. Over the coming months, we’ll work closely as a community to make informed choices as we navigate through any remaining declines in state revenues, encouraged by the positive signs of recovery in the national economy.

As I’ve said before, this won’t be easy, but other states and universities are dealing with far worse. I have every confidence that we’ll manage this latest round of budget challenges with the same character and spirit that have always defined CSU’s approach to a tough situation. It’s part of what I value and admire about our campus community, and I’m grateful to all of you for your hard work and commitment as we deal with this latest round of budget issues.

As a side bonus, the nice weather is keeping our utility bills down, and I hope you’ll all take advantage of the weather to enjoy our beautiful state. Have a great weekend.


Tony Frank