Regents give House info on campus finance
PHOENIX - Following a subpoena request by the speaker of the House, the Arizona Board of Regents delivered detailed information about the UA College of Medicine Phoenix campus's finances yesterday.
University officials and regents said they complied with the request and that they hope the more information they can provide to legislators, the better they will understand and support the project that will be launched this fall with 24 students but is expected to grow exponentially over the next years.
""The speaker is operating within his legal authority,"" said Greg Fahey, the UA associate vice president for government relations, about the request. ""Our relations with most legislators are very good. We are constantly answering questions.""
Eight of the 29 documents the regents supplied to House speaker Rep. Jim Weiers, R-Phoenix, already were available on the Board of Regents Web site, said Anne Barton, a regents spokeswoman.
""The more information we can provide or we can get out there, the more supportive policy makers will be,"" she said. ""We're still very positive about the way the proposal will be received. We just have to get the word out.""
The move came two weeks after several legislators peppered university officials with questions about the future of the campus, which may cost up to $600 million, according to President Robert Shelton.
Though legislators continued working with the universities after the meeting and were able to get most of the information they asked for, Weiers issued the subpoena to speed up the process, said Barrett Marson, the House communications director.
This is the first time Weiers has issued a subpoena and might be the first time a subpoena was ever issued to the Board of Regents, Marson and Barton said.
""We're working through that so this is not a hostile situation,"" Marson said. ""We're going through the budget, and it's getting crunch time around here, and a lot of lawmakers want more information.""
Budget negotiations are ongoing, and lawmakers need a clear picture of what the campus will cost to plan ahead for years to come, Marson said.
The subpoena includes five requests, and material relating to all of them was delivered to Weiers' office around 11 a.m. yesterday, as requested in the document, Barton said.
""The materials reflect our primary goal of developing a top-tier medical school in downtown Phoenix that will increase the number of physicians available to meet the state's current and future needs for quality health care,"" the Regents wrote in their submission package. ""The enclosed materials illustrate our commitment to maximize the public return on investment.""
In the subpoena, obtained by the Arizona Daily Wildcat, Weiers asked for information about:
? All documents relating to the cost for the UA College of Medicine Phoenix, between 2005 and 2025.
? All documents about sources and amounts of income for the school, between 2005 and 2025.
? All documents relating to the College of Pharmacy expansion and its cost.
? An analysis regarding the operational cost of the project, between 2005 and 2025.
? All documents regarding an overall plan for operation in the project, not limited to the cost.
In 2005, the Legislature allocated $7 million toward the construction of the campus, and several lawmakers said at the meeting two weeks ago they thought it was a one-time allocation to the school.
This year, university leadership asked for $25 million from the government. Money for the project is expected to come from several sources, including federal, state and private funding, Shelton said.
Weiers said at the meeting that even though he is a strong supporter of bioscience, there is a ""reluctance"" because of how fast the project has grown.
""Help me understand the half a billion (dollars),"" Weiers said to Shelton. ""What we were told is not what has happened. Where is the end, where is the finalization, and how much is it going to eventually cost?""