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Hick: No Magic Fix for Higher Ed

The Hickenlooper Administration is warning state higher education leaders that they shouldn't expect the gloomy budget picture facing colleges and universities to improve this year. The Governor told a group of students and faculty from the University of Colorado today at the state capitol that there is no magic fix for higher education.
Higher education is one of the only areas in the state budget without strings attached or constitutional restrictions, meaning it's often one of the first departments lawmakers turn to when trying to balance the budget.
This year with a $1 billion budget gap and federal stimulus money running out, it's widely thought that higher education will be on the chopping block again.
Governor John Hickenlooper and his cabinet officials have blanched at suggestions that one fix would be to ask voters for a tax increase. But Hickenlooper says students might make a better case.
"I'm not encouraging anybody to light bonfires, but I am saying, pay attention, and be vocal and make sure that that full context of what higher education does for the state is fully heard."
For their part, University of Colorado officials like to point out that the school is one of the state's largest employers.
But as with schools like Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado, they too aren't counting on a dedicated tax increase for higher education to pass muster with voters anytime soon.
They say they've been carefully budgeting for when the federal stimulus money runs out in order to, in their words, avoid the draconian tuition increases that have hit places like the University of California.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.