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Bill Would Put State Public Universities Expenses Online

DENVER (CBS4) – Parents and educators are one step closer to learning where public universities spend every dime in Colorado. A bill that would put all their expenses online passed a House committee with bipartisan support on Monday.

The bill would answer such questions like how much a professor makes, or who’s paying for a new building, or why the university is asking for a tuition increase. The idea is to have accountability without transparency.

Rep. BJ Nikkel, R-Loveland, is behind the bill.

“I think it’s important to shine the light on where this money is going, and I know from just doing the work on this bill that a lot of money is going to administrators’ and professors’ salaries,” Nikkel said.

At the University of Colorado nearly a third of last year’s $36 million tuition increase went to salary increases, including a raise of nearly $50,000 for the Boulder chancellor.

“We’re not concerned about perception that there are people at CU who have six-figure salaries. We have Nobel prize winners, we have doctors who are working to cure cancer,” CU spokesman Ken McConnellogue said.

McConnellogue says CU is not opposing the bill.

“When have a $2.8 billion enterprise with lots of moving parts, thousands of faculty, thousands of classes, it’s a substantial undertaking,” McConnellogue said.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way,” Nikkel said.

Nikkel says every other state agency has figured it out.

Jessica Peck Corry, a CU graduate, urged lawmakers to come down on the side of transparency.

“How the heck can we look in to the eyes of Colorado’s working families as they prepare to shoulder burden of yet another 15 percent tuition increase,” Peck Corry said.

The bill requires an online database that includes not only salaries, but the number of classes any given professor teaches, benefits, travel expenses and grants.

State economists estimate it would cost each school between $250,000 and $500,000 to get the websites up and running.

The Colorado School of Mines was the only one to oppose the bill in committee. It says it may have to raise tuition or cut financial aid to pay for it.


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