By Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee slashed $493 million from next year’s higher education budget, a massive 58% cut from this year’s funding levels by lawmakers trying to fill the state’s $3.3 billion revenue shortfall.

The impact of Tuesday’s decision by the budgetary committee, however, will be softened by Gov. Jared Polis’ Monday night executive order that gives $450 million in federal CARES Act money to the state’s public colleges and universities for a broad list of uses related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Accounting for the federal money and the state cuts, higher education institutions are facing a roughly 5% reduction next year in how much they will have available to them, said Henry Sobanet, Colorado State University System chief financial officer.

The threat of enrollment declines poses

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