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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Gov. budget plan saves universities from cuts

    PHOENIX – UA officials say they support Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano’s 2009 state budget plan, one that doesn’t cut funding from higher education in the midst of an estimated $1 billion budget deficit for this year and potentially next year.

    On Friday, Napolitano and members of the Arizona Senate proposed two 2009 state budget plans with stark differences with regard to higher education.

    A proposal drafted by the chairmen of the Senate and House Appropriations Committee called for a 10 percent reduction in funds to state agencies, which included a $36 million cut to the UA’s funding.

    The proposal, from Sen. Bob Burns, R-Peoria, and Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, also does not provide increased funding for
    university enrollment growth.

    The governor’s proposal, meanwhile, does not cut from the UA’s budget and provides increased funding for each of the state’s three universities, including $1.5 million for student access and workforce development for programs such as UA South and UA Continuing Education and Academic Outreach.

    “”We have a very serious budget situation that the governor does not believe,”” Burns said. “”She has not accepted the crisis we are in.””

    UA President Robert Shelton wrote in an e-mail that although budget negotiations are in the infancy stages, the university supports the governor’s plan “”in its entirety.””

    “”She correctly recognizes that education is an investment in Arizona’s future,”” he wrote. “”We shall work closely with the governor and colleagues in the Legislature to demonstrate the value of supporting higher education.””

    The Senate and House committee canceled all meetings this week so lawmakers can work on the state’s budget for this and next year.

    The governor’s 2009 proposal also relies on using $196 million of the $225 million “”rainy day”” fund, and capital financing for new school construction.

    Rep. Jennifer Burns, R-Avra Valley, said higher education is important to Arizona’s economy.

    “”We need to hear from students and alumni to convince all legislators that higher education is important,”” she said.

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