On November 4, 2008, the voters of Colorado passed Amendment 50 by a margin of 59% in favor to 41% against. More than one million Coloradans voted in favor of this! It was supported by more than 50 organizations, 10 major daily newspapers through out the state, and a large number of individuals. It is gratifying that the voters and these organizations overwhelmingly recognized the contributions made by community colleges to our students and the economy. We truly are “real colleges for real people!” Community colleges are the backbone of our economic development in the state. We train more than 90% of
the first responders and more than half of the nurses in Colorado. Our message is widely known – we are the quality provider of higher education that is available and accessible to all Coloradans. I thank you for the role each of you plays in our community colleges.
I want to explain the next steps in implementing Amendment 50’s provisions. Amendment 50 gives the communities of Black Hawk, Cripple Creek and Central City the ability to vote next spring on the following three issues: increasing the betting limits in the casinos from $5 to up to $100, the ability to decide if they want to add extra games, and the ability to extend their hours of operation. Each community will make its own decision on which changes they want to make, if any.
The bulk of the increase in revenue, 78%, will come to CCCS colleges, Aims Community College, Western Colorado Community College, and Colorado Mountain College based on their student enrollments. If the towns vote to implement these changes, the increase in funding is estimated by the Legislative Council to bring in $23 million for our system of community colleges in the first year of implementation, with a total of $182 million over the next 5 years. I am excited about this new revenue, but also want to caution that these are only estimates and the economy may affect them. Furthermore, the funds will not be immediately available as votes must take place in the towns where gaming currently exists.
Another key provision of the amendment is that this money is intended to supplement, NOT supplant, what we receive through the state budget. So it is not the intention of the voters that this money replace what we currently get, it is to add to our state funding. The amendment directs that the money is to be spent on classroom instruction and financial aid.
The Amendment 50 campaign was positive and had little organized opposition. We are excited that the voters of Colorado chose to support community colleges. We thank them for enabling all of us to do our jobs even better with more resources to enrich our students’ lives.