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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Shelton: Budget cut will hurt state economy

    Legislative leaders have proposed an unprecedented, and what UA President Robert Shelton has called an “”ill conceived”” mid-year budget cut of $243 million dollars to Arizona’s three universities.

    In a news conference held Friday, Shelton discussed the impacts of the proposed budget solution put forward by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

    The University of Arizona’s share of the cut would be approximately $103 million dollars.

    In a video message released to the campus community the same day, Shelton said the severe budget cuts would only serve to prolong the recession, damage the economy further and hurt the state of Arizona’s work force.

    “”The state needs to protect its universities, not dismantle them if it has any hope of building an economy for the future,”” Shelton said in his video.

    The UA plays a vital economic role in providing jobs to the people of Southern Arizona, Shelton said in the news conference.

    “”Ventana Medical is hiring hundreds of people this year in good paying jobs,”” he said. “”That was an organization that was spun out of the University of Arizona.””

    Shelton said Ventana Medical Systems Inc. thrives and continues to grow in southern Arizona because of strong science and research programs at the UA.

    “”They are going to be hiring hundreds of people this year,”” Shelton said. “”That is the kind of activity we need… and you won’t have that growth without a robust University of Arizona.””

    Shelton also discussed the potential impact of House Concurrent Resolution 2002 sponsored by Rep. Warde Nichols, R-Gilbert.

    The proposed resolution would be an elimination of the current structure of the Arizona Board of Regents, and instead the three state universities would be overseen by individual boards with legislative ties.

    “”We have a terrific Board of Regents,”” Shelton said. “”And for the legislature to want to politicize the operations of the universities, I think, is a very bad sign.””

    Shelton said this could mean the legislature would get into detailed levels of budget allocations, including potentially managing all the tuition income of the universities.

    “”This really violates basic business practices,”” he said. “”Business practices are you hire great people, you entrust them with responsibilities, and you push the decisions down to the people who are really in the know.””

    Shelton also said he recently met with governor-to-be Jan Brewer and “”she expressed a great value of education in the state of Arizona.””

    However, Shelton said he is still unsure of how that “”expression of value”” translates into financial decisions and budget decisions for the higher education system.

    Shelton said that the University of Arizona is willing to work with the state during this recession.

    “”We are prepared to take our fair share of budget cuts, and to be there in a stronger, better mode once this recession is over to pull the state out of it’s economic woes,”” he said.

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