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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Universities not affected by state shutdown

    As Arizona takes the steps to possibly shut down the state, university officials, staff and students can rest easy knowing that the state’s three universities will not be affected.

    The State Legislature passed parts of a budget late Tuesday night minutes before their midnight deadline. Although a decision by Gov. Jan Brewer on whether or not to sign the passed partial budget may come as soon as today, the governor is unlikely to sign what has been approved. Missing from the budget were two controversial tax proposals, one of which Brewer has publicly endorsed.

    The result leaves Arizona’s state-funded services in jeopardy of shutting down, but while other services are scrambling to figure out how to go on without state support, universities will rely on tuition and federal funds to continue day-to-day operations, President Robert Shelton said in a letter to the campus community on June 30.

    “”With thousands of students on campus for summer session, hundreds of federally-funded research projects underway, patients requiring care from our medical staff and dozens of other contracted commitments, it would be legally and practically impossible for the UA to physically shut down,”” Shelton said in the letter.

    Shelton went on to say that the alternate-sourced funds “”will allow the university to continue to operate until the state budget is formally passed.””

    When that will be is currently undetermined, as negotiations and discussions of the budget at the Capitol have continually broken down over the past several weeks.

    “”The length of time we can continue to operate depends on many variables,”” Shelton told the Summer Wildcat. “”But…we must honor our commitments to our research and classes.””

    A main disagreement between legislators and the governor is a proposed one-cent sales tax increase, but a key component that had worried university officials is likely off the table, said Andrea Smiley, a public relations representative with the Arizona Board of Regents.

    The Republican-led State Legislature had approved a budget vote on June 4 that would have swept $50 million from private self-funded accounts of Arizona’s three universities. Brewer has publicly stood against the possibility of such sweeps, and Arizona’s universities sent out statements the following week calling the sweeps illegal.

    The Arizona Board of Regents was even willing to challenge the sweeps in court, an action that will not be necessary if the governor stands her ground.

    “”We have very publicly thrown our support behind the governor and the things she thinks are important elements of a budget that will help our fiscal health, and we continue to support her,”” Smiley said. “”At this point, we’re just continuing to move forward and hopeful that a budget will be decided very soon.””

    While the Regents have stayed proactive by publicly supporting Brewer’s state budget stance, the UA’s state government relations staff has been working behind the scenes with Brewer and the legislature “”to articulate the value the UA brings to the state of Arizona and thus the need for support,”” Shelton said.

    While Arizona’s leaders, school officials and residents have spent the past few days preparing for a state shutdown, expectations have turned to speculation, as no one has experienced the current situation before, Smiley said.

    “”This is unprecedented,”” she said. “”We’ve never faced this with our state or with our university system.””

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