Senate budget would trim UA funds
The Arizona Senate passed its version of the state budget last week, which included less funding for the UA than was requested by Gov. Jan Brewer.
Brewer announced the proposed outline for the 2015 fiscal year budget in January, which gave the UA $3.5 million in additional funding for 2015. After the budget proposal passed through the Senate, that number is smaller, now amounting to $2.5 million in additional funding to be used solely for the Cooperative Extension Program.
This funding proposal is less than 10 percent of what the UA had originally requested, which was $34.8 million. That amount was what the Arizona Board of Regents, the state of Arizona’s higher education governing board, concluded was adequate funding for the UA for 2015.
In a press release regarding the Senate’s budget, Eileen I. Klein, president of the board of regents, thanked the Senate for the $2.5 million for the Cooperative Extension programs, but expressed the need for a funding plan for Arizona universities in the future.
“Arizona’s public universities still lack a clear funding path for the future,” Klein said. “Proposals requested by the Legislature to fund the universities based on meeting performance metrics that benefit the state have largely been ignored.”
Klein added that the UA is entering its sixth year of receiving no additional funding for its main campus.
“The support from the state has gone down,” said Lynn Nadel, chair of the Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee. “If we don’t get it from the state, then we have to take it from student tuition, which makes it a lot harder for students.”
Nadel said that budgeting within the UA has changed dramatically from a few years ago.
“It used to be that the state covered something like 65 percent of the cost of the university and what it takes to run the university,” Nadel said. “Then the UA covered the rest of the costs, about 35 percent, from tuition — now it’s exactly the reverse.”
In order to do what the UA does best, which is teaching students and preparing them for the future, Nadel said, the university depends on getting sufficient funding from the state.
“It’s impossible to run the university without adequate funding,” Nadel said.
State Rep. Ethan Orr (R-District 9) said he is actively working to increase funding for the UA and believes that it will receive more than what was proposed. Orr is also the vice chairman for the Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
“I have been negotiating for the past two-and-a-half days straight to improve funding for the UA,” Orr said.
Morgan Abraham, an engineering management senior and president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said that although this budget is not official, if it were to pass it would create significant changes at the UA.
“If it goes through, it’s going to have a huge impact on the UA’s ability to meet admissions and ABOR 2020 goals,” Abraham said. “Money has to flow to the UA for it to be able to function.”
Abraham said that the two major ways the UA receives funding are from the state and the students, so students would feel an impact.
“If the state decides that they don’t want to fund higher education, then that’s a direct correlation that our tuition goes up,” Abraham said.