"One of the reasons that I asked for a bi-partisan group to participate was to try and neutralize the kind of partisan politics that can sometimes come to play when you talk about matters that have to do with funding," Ritter said.
On Thursday, the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee delivered the report entitled, "The Degree Dividend: A Strategic Plan for Higher Education in Colorado." It outlines four main recommendations.
Affordability is the first issue. The report states that Colorado must invest more in higher education to ensure affordability for all. Right now, all of the state's public colleges are considering significant tuition increases.
Access is the second issue. The committee believes the state must find a way to close the ethnic gap as well as the income gap which exists for students and their opportunities to go to college.
Quality is another concern outlined in the report. The committee says that educators from pre-school through graduate school need to work together to make sure all students are prepared to succeed in higher education institutions.
Accountability is the last item which the committee says action is needed. It states that the Colorado Council on Higher Education should enforce more oversight over the system to make sure that different factors are aligned to reach a common goal.
Some of the options for improvement include an increase in property taxes, increase in sales taxes, and an expansion of sales tax. The committee says combining two or more of these options could generate more than $1 billion in additional revenue.
"Higher education is in a deepening crisis - it's as simple as that," Jim Lyons, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, said. "We cannot expect our institutions of higher education to continue to provide quality education and produce the additional certificates and degrees needed for our economic future without additional resources. We must place the best interests of the state's system of higher ed first."
Ritter knows that with a newly elected statehouse and governor, the decision-makers will have a tough task.
"It is my hope that both Republicans and Democrats in this building will read this report and understand that every day that we don't act on this report is a day that we defer the problem to a later time," Ritter said.
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)