Gubernatorial candidates Bob Beauprez and Bill Ritter appeared on Colorado Public Radio this week to discuss the state of education in Colorado.
Ryan Warner, host of “Colorado Matters” on KCFR, questioned the candidates on their stances on Referendum C, passed by voters last year. The referendum allowed the state to suspend tax refunds mandated under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights for the next five years to fund health care, public education, transportation project and fire and police pensions.
Republican candidate Beauprez, who opposed the referendum, clarified his position on the issue.
“It isn’t just about the money,” said Beauprez. “We’ve got to bring value to these institutions.”
Beauprez said he opposed the referendum because it “didn’t fix anything.”
He said that because Referendum C did not “change the way the state does business,” it would lead to a bigger government with more programs that the state would not be able to fund when the economic cycle slides into another recession.
Democratic candidate Ritter, who supported Referendum C, said that its passage would make higher education “more affordable and accessible to everyone.”
Ritter said that CU President Hank Brown, who is also a “pretty conservative Republican,” came out in support of Referendum C because he feared its rejection would put higher education out of reach for children from poorer backgrounds.
“We have to look over time with the suspension of TABOR as to its effectiveness and see where we are at in five years,” said Ritter. “But I would love to double the number of Colorado kids getting diplomas from Colorado universities.”
Both candidates agreed that improving the state’s ranking of No. 49 in public education funding is a priority.
“The objective of education is the outcome of the child,” said Beauprez.