Without saying how exactly the state will avoid a deficit, Governor Bill Ritter promised controversial plans to cut $300 million from the budgets of Colorado’s colleges and universities are now off the table, according to The Denver Post, which notes the state Senate took a contentious step yesterday in passing legislation that calls for the seizure of $500 million from Pinnacol Assurance, a quasi-governmental entity that provides workers’ compensation insurance to businesses.

Higher education officials were predictably gleeful and wary, saying they’ll finally rest when the state’s $17.9 billion budget is finalized. Prior to the Senate’s vote, which sends the measure to the House, opponents of the Pinnacol plan, many of them fiscal conservatives, gathered outside the Capitol for a rally, chanting “Stop the stealing,” according to the Denver Business Journal.

Senator Mike Kopp, a Littleton Republican, called the plan “arrogant,” but such ranting didn’t stop the momentum, as the Pueblo Chieftain points out, writing that the transfer from the state-owned company is meant to offset “a gaping hole in the state’s budget” at a time when the state appears desperate for cash.