• Gov. Bill Owens
In his eighth and final State of the State Address, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens promised a small increase in K-12 education aid, but did not offer any new precolle-giate initiatives.
He also reiterated his pledge to protect the state’s testing and accountability system, but spent more time discussing higher education.
“Let’s continue to move forward, not backward, on education,” the Republican told state legislators in the Jan. 12 speech.
Finances: Gov. Owens said state K-12 spending would rise by $126 million, or 4 percent, to $2.8 billion, under his budget plan for fiscal 2007.
The governor called for changes to rein in the costs of the public-employee retirement system, including possibly trimming future benefits for workers furthest from retirement.
He spoke at length about Referendum C, a ballot measure approved last November that will allow nearly $4 billion to be spent over several years on education, health care, and transportation. The measure suspends Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, which imposed strict constitutional limits on state and local revenues. (“Colorado Voters Suspend Revenue Limits,” Nov. 9, 2005.)
Higher Education: “The voters gave us the revenue we need so that Colorado can recover from recession,” Mr. Owens said. “It’s now our duty to use these funds wisely.”
“Clearly, two of the areas that suffered the most during the recession were higher education and transportation,” he said. “My budget allows higher education to make a faster, fuller recovery than any area” of government spending. Total spending on higher education would reach $658 million under his plan.
The governor called for limiting tuition increases at state colleges and universities “to no more than 2.5 percent,” and for the creation of minimum state standards for granting tenure to college professors.