Community College Degree Bill Killed in House

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A bill that would have allowed Colorado's community colleges to offer a very limited number of bachelor’s degrees failed by one vote Monday in the state House Education Committee.

The measure, Senate Bill 165, was the one significant higher education bill of the 2013 session, and it sparked a brisk turf war between the state's 13 community colleges and most of the state's universities. The bill was heavily lobbied, and the big schools won.

The bill had passed the state Senate easily.

Nancy McCallin, president of the community college system, said after Monday's vote that she was disappointed. But she added, “This isn’t the end,” indicating the system likely would be back with another proposal next year.

“This was about the students. Unfortunately it became about institutions,” she said, explaining the bill was designed to help students who need bachelor of applied science degrees in certain fields but can’t get such programs in Colorado.

Asked if lobbying was a factor in the vote, McCallin said, “Of course it is. There are a lot of them.”

The bill would have allowed community colleges to offer up to seven degree programs in “technical, career and workforce development” programs.

House Education amended the bill to specify that only “bachelor’s of applied sciences” degrees could be offered. Creation of such programs would have been subject to approval by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

But opponents of the bill were worried that expansion of community college offerings would put more demand on resources in a system they believe already is underfunded.

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