Business backs colleges

Report says Colorado ranks No. 49 for state funding

By Brittany Anas

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Colorado is becoming less competitive in the global economy because the state is starving its higher education system, says a new report from a nonpartisan group.

The group Colorado Succeeds is supported by several top business leaders who are trying to rally support from businesses to increase funding for higher education. The effort also has several corporate backers, including Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace and Frontier Airlines.

Colorado ranks 49th nationally when it comes to state and local support for higher education, says the group’s report “Higher Education in Colorado an economic engine running on empty.”

Colorado’s slipping higher education funding is bad enough, said Tim Taylor, president of Colorado Succeeds. But the fact that the nation is also falling in international rankings makes the situation even more drastic.

“By starving our higher education system, we are undermining our future,” the report says. “The quality of life and economic opportunities enjoyed by past generations may not be there for the future unless thoughtful action is taken.”

The business leaders are creating a plan to address their concerns so that Colorado doesn’t “sink into mediocrity.” The report’s authors say the state’s historically competitive position is now seriously challenged and the economy cannot do well without a public and private education system that produces top-notch, highly skilled graduates.

The report also highlights how higher education contributes to the state’s economy.

The University of Colorado’s three-campus system pumped more than $4 billion into the state’s economy in fiscal year 2004. CU also was awarded more than $588 million in research and development grants in fiscal year 2002.

The Boulder campus this year brought in about $190 million from out-of-state tuition, CU President Hank Brown said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© 2006 Daily Camera and Boulder Publishing, LLC.