CSU Chancellor Blake, on introductory tour, hits up Pueblo Rotarians

Yesterday in Pueblo, new CSU Chancellor Joe Blake stressed again his mission to reengineer state-wide higher-education funding. He said his job over the next few years is to “hang that lamp, light that lantern on the problem.” Blake, appointed for his thick Rolodex and familiarity in the state’s power circles, was addressing Pueblo’s Rotary Club 43.

In a closed-door meeting in May that a judge later ruled violated state Open Meetings laws, members of the CSU board selected Blake, board vice chairman, as chancellor. One of the members at one point referred to Blake as “The Pope” of the state Capitol political mover and shaker community.

As The Pueblo Chieftain reports, The Pope told the Rotarians yesterday that “Colorado has a challenge of unbelievable proportion. We do not have a sustainable source of funding for higher education.”

He said his job is to “find money” and then repeated the plan he’s been articulating since he took office a few weeks ago. Blake is looking to hit up alumni and launch a ballot initiative campaign that would ask voters to greenlight taxes for a set-aside higher education fund.

When it comes to the state budget, Blake said higher education is one of the few areas where funding is not automatic.

“Higher education is the only major source of funding or defunding the state Legislature has to try to balance the budget.” Blake said state officials need to begin discussion on what they want to do for higher education.

“There will be some need for a constitutional discussion about what to do about higher education. It is the most serious issue facing us and we have to do something about it.”

Blake has had success in this area before. He took the same tack on k-12 education funding as a leader of the Referendum C campaign in 2005. Referendum C suspended Constitutional restrictions on spending revenues collected above TABOR-set limits.

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