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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Budgets approved, awaiting Senate”

    PHOENIX – Members of a joint subcommittee adopted a university budget proposal for 2008 but voted down several attempts to further increase the funds yesterday.

    One motion that failed would have allocated more than $60 million for retention, math and science initiatives, retention programs and several university medical programs.

    A scaled-back motion on math and science initiatives by the same representative, Tempe Democrat David Schapira, also failed.

    Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, proposed a $1.5 million appropriation for the UA College of Pharmacy in Phoenix, also without luck.

    Members of the Joint Appropriations subcommittee on education and natural resources adopted a baseline budget that was proposed by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee earlier this year and would allocate about $1 billion from the general fund to the universities in fiscal year 2008, which is an increase of $96.8 million over last year.

    In addition, committee members passed for further consideration a motion by Aboud that would add more than $20 million for student retention for the Phoenix biomedical campus and the UA College of Medicine in Phoenix.

    The adopted budget proposal and the additional motion will be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee later in the session.

    Aboud said she made her motions on behalf of the UA and expected not one, but both of them to go through.

    “”I’m trying to be reasonable to find some consensus here,”” she said. “”Building our education system is key to bringing business here and is crucial to our economy.””

    Schapira said he had hoped the motions would pass the committee, especially the $3 million for math and science incentives.

    The money could be used to fund one of his bills that would pay students’ tuition and fees if they accept jobs in districts with a teacher shortage, he said.

    “”It has a lot of bang for the buck,”” Schapira said. “”For $3 million, we can educate another 500 to 600 teachers a year.””

    But because the budget proposal and related motions will be heard more than once before being finalized, Schapira said his fellow lawmakers might change their opinions.

    “”I plan to keep fighting,”” he said.

    UA representatives welcome some parts of the proposed budget, but are still working with lawmakers to include additional funds, said Charlene Ledet, special assistant in the UA’s Office of State Relations.

    Funding for the Phoenix biomedical campus, the College of Pharmacy and student retention are a priority for the UA, but have not been sufficiently addressed in the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s proposal, Ledet said.

    “”The budget process is at early stages right now,”” she said. “”We’re hoping that when it’s decision time they have the funding to support the universities.””

    Several of those areas receive more funding under Gov. Janet Napolitano’s budget proposal, including student retention and more funding for the Phoenix biomedical campus.

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