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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Filling budget holes with student funds

    As the semester winds down, nearly every student waits to exhale, kick back, and down a cold one in hopes of summer. Yet, the Bud Light will soon turn into Keystone, which subsequently decomposes into the beast. Do standards of beer drop with the more volume consumed? Yes (duh!), but the tragic degradation of beverage quality looms due to the additional increases to next year’s tuition.

    Proposed by President Robert Shelton, the “”economic recovery surcharge”” was amended to $1,100 from last week’s proposal of $1,000. So for those of you who have already budgeted for next year’s tuition, break out the calculator and Red Bull. Akin to airlines imposing a “”seat belt fee,”” this “”surcharge”” embodies the practice of using mandatory fees to raise de facto tuition without corresponding increase in official tuition rates provided by the university.

    Let’s imagine the practicality of the airport scenario.

    Desk: “”That’ll be a $200 ticket and $25 seat belt fee””

    You: “”OK. Well I just want to pay for my ticket. Why do I need to pay another fee?

    Desk: “”Well, the seat belts were more expensive than we thought, and the airline won’t give us anymore money.””

    You: “”I don’t need a seat belt. I’ll just hold on tight and hope for the best.””

    Desk: “”Sorry sir, we can’t let you fly without using a seat belt. We can’t let you use a seat belt without paying $25. Therefore, we can’t let you fly without paying the seat belt fee.””

    It’s not perfect, but the theme rings true.

    The budget process has been less than dependable, due in large part to the presumably necessary adjustments to fiscal year 2009. The annual state appropriation for UA was $77 million short for this year and looks to be worse for 2010. In the midst of budget pitfalls, it only made sense that current students become the bridge for the future. If enough surcharges can be added to student commitments, those graduating in 2020 may be able to add an upper level POL course.

    In a memorandum to the Arizona Board of Regents and Council of Presidents, Shelton listed three essential values of “”quality, balance, and consistency”” in budget management and planning. I sure wish students had those values in our budget management and planning tool. To beat a dead horse like I’m in “”Reservoir Dogs””, WebReg is anything and everything but balanced, consistent, or high quality. The inability to add a required class can cause graduation hardships for countless seniors. Even if they are allowed to walk on graduation by taking summer school, the added financial stress of paying for those last 3 or 4 units is a wonderful way to part ways. “”Thanks for subsidizing state budgetary foresight and have fun paying off all that debt!””

    Jan Brewer, who may one day curse President Obama’s appointment of Janet Napolitano, has pledged her support to fix it all. That is, she really wants to fix it all. In an Associated Press contribution, Gov. Brewer stated her refusal to approve a budget that “”decimates education”” or bankrupts Arizona. Everyone may have a different definition of “”decimate,”” but an objective assessment of both the availability and quality of all university resources would not be kind. Gov. Brewer wants to support education and the state as a whole, but is there any doubt as to which she would let fail first? Meanwhile, in Washington…

    “”Look in the sky! It’s a plane, it’s a bird -ÿit’s the U.S Department of Education?”” According to new guidelines, Arizona must use part of the stimulus funds to fill the recent cuts in the education system. With an estimated $1 billion in educational stimulus money and wide discretion, Gov. Jan Brewer might get the chance to make good on her commitments. The new guidelines require that recent cuts be filled by September 30, 2010, just out of reach for current upper level students.

    The rules are there and the money is on its way, but will Gov. Brewer act swiftly to ensure that current students can enjoy graduating with improving conditions rather than declining? There are many uncertainties in this process, but the Governor undoubtedly has the discretion to fill budget gaps quickly or let students continue to bear Arizona’s budget burden.

    – Daniel Sotelo is a political science junior. He can be reached at

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