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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gov. vetoes spending freeze

    PHOENIX – Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a legislative measure yesterday to freeze more than $600 million in state spending, calling the bill a “”piecemeal”” attempt to balance a budget shortfall of more than $1.2 billion.

    The bill would have also halted more than $25 million in spending for the state’s three universities.

    It’s difficult to forecast the impact the $25 million freeze – equal to a 2.5 percent decrease in the university system – would have had on the schools, because the language in the bill left the discretion of the freeze up to the Arizona Board of Regents, said Christine Thompson, assistant director of government affairs for the board.

    “”Each of the institutions is aware of the fiscal situation of the state and is taking steps to make sure that spending is prudent on each of the campuses,”” she said. “”They’re aware of what’s going on. They are not operating in a vacuum.””

    On Feb. 21, UA President Robert Shelton released a statement that said the UA would limit any hiring for the remainder of the fiscal year to critical university positions.

    Napolitano released her own 2007-08 budget management plan in September, one that relies on capital financing for K-12 schools and borrowing from the state’s rainy day fund.

    The governor criticized the Legislature for HB 2857 and called the legislation inadequate in a veto letter released Monday.

    “”We cannot congratulate ourselves and think we have made progress by piecemeal attempts like House Bill 2857,”” she wrote. “”We fool no one. Arizonans deserve a comprehensive fiscal plan that resolves the expected budget deficits of fiscal year 2008 and 2009.””

    In the letter, Napolitano pushed the Legislature to work on a comprehensive, bipartisan plan for Arizona.

    Rep. Tom Boone, R-Peoria, the main sponsor of the House bill, could not be reached for comment yesterday afternoon.

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