Hawkins took part in a nationwide event called "Got Tuition?" It was designed to promote college affordability and he also encouraged them to support Amendment 58, which would funnel $157 million more per year to scholarships for Colorado students.
Amendment 58, according to the state's voter guide, or blue book highlighting positives and negatives of each measure before Colorado voters this fall, would "increase the amount of state severance taxes paid by oil and natural gas companies (in Colorado), primarily by eliminating an existing state tax credit."
The majority of the money raised through the amendment, estimated to be $321 million by 2010, would be distributed to college scholarships with the remainder going to help maintain wildlife habitat, to promoting energy efficiency, to cleaner drinking water and to transportation projects in areas impacted by oil and gas drilling.
The amendment is being supported by Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) and a group called A Smarter Colorado (http://www.asmartercolorado.com/). He told them he knows the cost of attending schools like CU is on the rise, both for in-state and out-of-state students and he believes "nobody should be denied the opportunity to be here."
"I'm lucky enough. There's no way I'd be attending the University of Colorado if I wasn't here on a scholarship," Hawkins said in an interview on campus. "I have several friends, (including) my roommate last year had to move back to Idaho because he couldn't afford the tuition and scholarships were very hard to come by, so we're trying to raise awareness. It's a big student issue and they can really help out. By voting yes on Amendment 58, we can better the scholarship funding for our school."
Opponents of the amendment complimented Hawkins on his civic engagement but disputed whether it would have the impact he hoped.
"It's good to see that Cody is concerned about college tuition, but the tax increase proposed by Amendment 58 won't help," wrote Dan Hopkins, spokesman for Coloradans for a Stable Economy, a group formed to fight the amendment. "It doesn't provide any additional funding for our colleges, meaning that tuition increases are inevitable, wiping out any possible benefit of the small scholarships that some students may receive. Students are going to be thrown for a loss."
There are 18 statewide ballot measures for voters to decide on Nov. 4. It is the largest number of initiatives and referenda to be decided in Colorado since the first election where Coloradans had citizen initiatives on the ballot in 1912.
To read the Blue Book description of Amendment 58, visit http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/bluebook/2008EnglishVersionforInternet.pdf.
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