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Arizona universities could be next to face budget cuts

Professor+of+law+and+clinical+program+director+Andy+Silverman+asks+a+question+during+the+open+question+portion+of+the+Legislative+Update+presentation+during+the+Faculty+Senate+meeting+on+Monday.+At+the+meeting%2C+it+was+announced+that+Arizona+public+universities+could+face+future+budget+cuts+due+to+the+states+budget+deficit.
Alicia Vega

Professor of law and clinical program director Andy Silverman asks a question during the open question portion of the Legislative Update presentation during the Faculty Senate meeting on Monday. At the meeting, it was announced that Arizona public universities could face future budget cuts due to the state’s budget deficit.

The monthly Faculty Senate meeting on Monday afternoon focused on the state budget.

Kim Sabow, the assistant vice president of state relations, gave a presentation to the senate regarding its move to Phoenix and what has been predicted for the upcoming fiscal year.

Sabow gave numbers and a visual representation with a pie chart to discuss the state budget and the amounts appropriated for certain areas. These numbers showed, at the moment, $768.4 million has been appropriated for all three public universities in the state.

However, Sabow told the senate that financial analysts are predicting that by the time the next fiscal year comes to an end, there will be a budget deficit of $1 billion.

Sabow proceeded to go into detail as to how the other portions of the pie chart, particularly the largest portions, were not going to be cut in response to the deficit.

“As you can see of the state’s general fund appropriations, the total state budget is $9.3 billion, and of that, essentially two-thirds of that state budget is untouchable,” Sabow said. “K-12 and AHHCCCS are voter-protected, meaning that the Legislature and the governor can not cut from those sections of the pie.”

Sabow also said the department of corrections will most likely not be cut because the appropriation for it is based on inmate population. The department of child services is also unlikely to see cuts based on the fact it has been recently established.

She said all the others simply won’t see many cuts because they can’t. Sabow told the senate that during the last economic downturn, these departments were cut to the bare bones, and there is essentially nothing left to cut.

Sabow said this essentially leaves only the universities with room for cuts.

“Even the appropriations chairman for both the House and Senate and the appropriations committees, as well as both individuals running for governor, have indicated there are very few places from which to cut,” Sabow said. “So for the foreseeable future, universities will indeed be on the table.”

Sabow added that a solution to ensure the UA won’t see dramatic cuts is the benefit of their new location in Phoenix. She said by being closer to the capital, their visibility is increased, and they are able to campaign for the things the university needs.

Sabow gave an example of how this close proximity to the capitol allowed the UA to obtain a work grant.

Senate member Andrew Silverman, a law professor, asked Sabow if this meant budget cuts were going to be seen soon.

Sabow told Silverman that, at the moment, the presidents of all three universities are working together to figure out a solution.

Sabow also said although the UA was diligent about being fiscally responsible and working to save money during the year, the funds were not allowed to belong solely to the UA; these funds were dispersed among all three universities.

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