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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Campus fights budget nightmare

    At their first regular board meeting of 2009, the Arizona Board of Regents will hand the mic over to UA students, parents, faculty, local business leaders and many other community members today for input on the proposed legislative budget cuts.

    The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center North Ballroom followed by a “”Call to the Audience”” at 1:20 p.m.

    The ABOR staff said they will be concentrating on the public’s opinion of the budget cuts proposed by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee – which amount to approximately $600 million in cuts over the next 18 months ð- prior to strategic planning of the budget, lead by Regent Robert Bulla.

    Since the announcement of the proposed cuts, the universities have been internally putting together their own proposals which they will share with the board today, Associate Executive Director for Public Affairs and External Relations for ABOR Andrea Smiley said.

    “”We know from talking to the universities that cuts of this depth and breadth will lead to the potential for programs to be ended, and classes to be ended, and jobs that will be lost,””Smiley said. “”Before the proposal even came out, the universities were already thinking about and instituting a lot of cuts and a lot of efficiencies because they knew they were going to have to do something. But these cuts were just beyond belief.””

    Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Tommy Bruce said that student leaders are urging as many people as possible to unify under this cause and attend the meeting.

    “”We are trying to get as many people as possible to turn out to this meeting to show a united support from the university,”” Bruce said. “”Students, administrators, faculty, leaders within the community, everyone is going to stand up against these proposed budget cuts and say ‘We are not going to take them. The end.'”” Smiley said.

    “”The regents will hear from as many people as they can accommodate while still being able to perform the subsequent items on the agenda.””

    More than 300,000 people have been invited to attend the meeting today, including some key business leaders from the community, she said.

    “”Everyone who has filled out a ‘Call to the Audience’ form will be given an opportunity to speak,”” Smiley said. “”We obviously cannot hear from everyone in the room because the regents still need to get to the next item on the agenda – which is when the universities start discussing what these budget cuts will mean if they were to come to reality.””

    On the ABOR homepage, President of the Regent Board Fred Boice expressed the importance of hearing the voices of university supporters regarding the proposed cuts.

    “”I think it’s important that supporters attend this meeting, voice their concerns and show our legislative decision makers we are serious when we say this proposal is unacceptable,”” Boice said. “”Only together can we demand the legislature retract this unrealistic and disproportionate proposal, and work with the universities to determine a reasonable solution that helps the state’s budget crisis, without destroying higher education in our state.””

    Smiley said that she has not heard personally whether legislative leaders will be at the meeting today, but she said there is a possibility.

    “”We are all kind of dumbfounded as to what led them to propose these kinds of astronomical cuts,”” Smiley said. “”To not realize nor acknowledge the important work of the universities, not just in training our workforce and providing our citizens with the opportunity for a college degree; but the impact of the university in terms of research that they do and the strong economic driver that they are. We just don’t understand why you would want to hurt them in this way.””

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