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New bill would extend college tuition increase cap indefinitely

A bill that would indefinitely extend the current 6 percent cap on annual tuition increases at state colleges and universities was introduced by two Democratic lawmakers Monday.

Responding to growing concern about rising tuition, the 2014 legislature set a 6 percent tuition hike ceiling. That new law ended a system under which college trustees had flexibility in setting tuition, subject to review by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The new measure, Senate Bill 15-062, would create an exception for the Colorado School of Mines, which could increase tuition by 6 percent or twice the inflation rate, whichever is greater. And if state funding for higher education increased by less than the rate of inflation in a given year, any college could ask the commission for permission to increase undergraduate resident tuition rates by more than 6 percent.

The prime sponsors are Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Brittany Pettersen, both Lakewood Democrats.

Two other education bills were introduced Monday. They are:

House Bill 15-1076 – Prohibits requiring union membership or payment of dues as a condition of employment. This is a perennial GOP bill, and it would affect teachers unions. It was assigned to the State Affairs Committee, the “kill committee” in the Democratic-controlled House. Prime sponsors: Rep. Justin Everett; Sens. Tim Neville and Laura Woods. All are Jefferson County Republicans.

Senate Bill 15-063 – Broadens a 2007 program of grants to schools for alternative-energy projects. Prime sponsor: Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Edwards.

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