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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Low budget, high concern”

Arizona’s financial woes continued to dominate discussion at the latest meeting of the UA Faculty Senate on Monday in the James E. Rogers College of Law.

Charlene Ledet, the director of the Legislative Advocacy Program for the Office of State Relations, estimated Arizona’s total budget shortfall will exceed $800 million in 2011, and could top $1.4 billion in 2012 after federal stimulus monies are exhausted.

Ledet did say those figures could be mitigated somewhat if Proposition 301 and 302 are passed in today’s elections. Proposition 301 would take money from the state’s land conservation trust program, and 302 would eliminate the “”First Things First”” program, which places money raised from taxes on state sales of tobacco products and uses it to fund early childhood education and development. If both measures are approved, approximately $450 million raised for these programs would be diverted to the state’s general fund. There is no binding stipulation in either of these measures that would shift those funds to education.

Her concern was echoed by UA President Robert Shelton, who pointed out the economic benefits of a strong state education system.

John Ulreich, a representative from the College of the Humanities, spoke on what he perceives to be the shrinking role of humanities in education. Namely, he cited a shift toward a cost-effectiveness education approach and away from traditional focuses in education.

“”When we drift into the language of corporate America, we talk about enterprise models as we are basically forced to do, I think we’ve lost our way,”” he said.

Ulreich also extolled the values of a well-rounded and educated population.

“”If education fails, I don’t want to think about what will happen to government,”” he added.

He was also quick to caution that problems facing the humanities could easily spread to other areas of academia.  

“”I think the humanities are just the canary in the coal mine,”” Uhlreich said. “”And our ill health is a symptom of a much larger problem that is increasingly eroding public support for public education and, in so doing, is also eroding democratic institutions which are all founded ultimately on the idea that an educated public … can be trusted, trusted to govern ourselves.””

Shelton also stressed the importance of fostering good relationships with the Arizona Legislature.

“”We have some in the Legislature that don’t want to hear anything, but most of them do want to hear from us,”” Shelton said. “”We have to ask them in a way that makes sense and reminds them that we are an investment, not a drain on the state’s coffers.””

Specifically, Shelton emphasized the importance of communicating in a way that will appeal to legislators.  

“”We are challenged as never before and the way we are trying to deal with this is to use the right language … and to continue to work closely with the many legislators that I think are really trying to find ways to move the state of Arizona forward.””

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