Colorado’s Lt. Governor Joe Garcia announced today that he is stepping down from the position next year, after five years on the job. He also heads the Colorado Department of Higher Education and will leave that post to helm a higher education policy group for the western U.S. Garcia sat down with statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland to talk about the challenges facing higher education and his political future.
On whether he would make a future gubernatorial bid, as has long been rumored inside the state capitol:
“This would make it extremely unlikely, much less likely than if I stayed. I’ve always seen myself more as an educator than a politician.”
On the biggest challenges facing higher education:
“It goes well beyond the funding challenges. Too many students are graduating from high school not being college ready so they don’t enroll. Too many graduate and are college ready but don’t have the resources to go to college. Too many are bound by work or family by a particular place so they can’t go to an institution.”
On the upcoming legislative session and what he’d like to see lawmakers pass:
“We need to continue to address the funding challenge. Right now we’re facing a $20 million cut in our budget coming up. We have to address this hospital provider fee issue or we’re going to continue to see cuts to K-12 and higher education, at a time when our economy is booming. It doesn’t make any sense.”