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What’s ahead for the Colorado legislature in 2020

This session, MSU Denver will advocate for investment in student success and capital improvements. Here’s how you can get involved.

By Lindsey Coulter

January 27, 2020

President Janine Davidson presenting to Joint Budget Committee.The second regular session of Colorado’s 72nd General Assembly convened Jan. 8. Comprising 35 senators and 65 representatives, the state government is led by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

This session, members will tackle an estimated 700 bills and field thousands of funding requests related to health, environment, housing, gun control and much more, and Metropolitan State University of Denver will work diligently to keep investments in higher education and student success at the forefront.

A continued commitment to increase funding

President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., kicked off MSU Denver’s legislative efforts Jan. 14 at a meeting of the Joint Budget Committee. In her testimony to committee members, Davidson noted that, despite being the third-largest university in the state and the most affordable in the Front Range, MSU Denver remains Colorado’s lowest-funded higher-education institution on a per-student basis. She also challenged the body to “catalyze social and economic mobility, fill the talent pipeline and ensure that our state competes nationally and globally” by investing in public colleges and universities.

“I believe we are at a critical inflection point. If Colorado does not start to reinvest in public higher education, the state will suffer economically and civically,” Davidson said. “We simply cannot compete in an information-oriented, globalized economy, or thrive as a modern democracy, without a highly educated workforce and citizenry.”

JBC members have been meeting since November to review Polis’ budget proposal and assess spending priorities for each state agency, and MSU Denver will work to ensure that increased higher-education funding remains a priority. In addition, MSU Denver is supporting a supplemental request to implement access to state financial aid for ASSET students. Lobbying efforts will also focus on the Capital Development Committee, which makes recommendations for capital and controlled maintenance spending. MSU Denver is advocating for needed improvements to Auraria Campus facilities as well as a capital investment for a new MSU Denver Health Institute. Beyond these funding priorities, MSU Denver will advocate for legislation that creates a pathway for ASSET students to obtain professional licenses in health professions and other fields regulated by the state, investment in the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative, and policies to support educator preparation, workforce development and more. 

Telling the MSU Denver story

As competition for funding increases, MSU Denver’s strategy is to tell our story broadly and often and to continue building the University’s reputation. However, this legislative session has seen an unusually high turnover, especially among those legislators with whom MSU Denver has worked diligently to build relationships. As such, it is critical for the University to be strategic, proactive and present.

Roadrunners will reiterate the value of an MSU Denver education at the annual MSU Denver Day at the Capitol event Feb. 4. This event is an opportunity to engage with lawmakers to share student-success stories and proof points related to MSU Denver’s impact across the state. Employees who would like to attend as advocates can learn more at in this Early Bird article.

Employees are further encouraged to join MSU Denver Champions. MSU Denver Champions are passionate supporters who serve as advocates to inform and influence public-policy decisions that affect the University. The organization welcomes students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders in creating a strong, collective voice on behalf of the University.

Christine Staberg, founding partner of the Capstone Group LLC, also recommends that employee-advocates get to know their legislators. Attending town-hall meetings, reaching out to representatives outside of the session or even stopping by their offices to introduce yourself create opportunities to share student-success stories and explain how MSU Denver is helping to solve Colorado’s workforce challenges.

For more information on upcoming education bills, the status of funding requests and MSU Denver’s legislative strategy, stay tuned to the Early Bird for monthly articles throughout the session.

Topics: Colorado, Community, Funding, Gov. Polis, Legislation, Policy, President Davidson

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