Finalized state budget shortchanges UA on funding
The Arizona state budget signed by Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday will allocate less funding than requested to the UA.
The budget for the 2015 fiscal year will provide the UA with around $5.5 million in new funding, significantly less than the $34.8 million the Arizona Board of Regents had requested for the UA earlier this year.
The UA will receive $2 million for research infrastructure, which will be used on the main campus, according to Rep. Ethan Orr (R-District 9). The UA will also receive $3.5 million for the Cooperative Extension, the UA’s mission to develop agricultural programs and research for rural Arizona.
Orr said that he would have liked to see the UA receive more funding, specifically for the proposed veterinary medicine program.
“[The] UA is a land grant institution, and we serve rural Arizona, particularly the agricultural community,” Orr said. “I think the vet school is an essential part of that land grant mission.”
Orr said that during the budget negotiations, the Senate threatened to take UA funding down to zero. He said that there are many people who do not see higher education as an investment.
Orr said that he feels the budget doesn’t harm the UA and that it does a little good, but that he would have liked to see the UA receive $3 million to $5 million more. However, he said that the trend of low funding for higher education is starting to be reversed in Arizona.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart released a statement in response to the final budget on April 11. She thanked Orr and Sen. Steve Pierce (R-District 1) for working to get the $3.5 million provided for the Cooperative Extension program. However, she expressed disappointment over a lack of funding for other projects, including the proposed veterinary medicine program.
Hart said the rest of the funding would be applied to the many areas where it is critically needed, but that it may not be enough.
“Our main campus has not received significant state funding support for more than six years,” Hart said.
Hart said she will be meeting with her leadership team and the deans of the UA colleges and schools to decide where to look for the additional funding the UA will need. Though the Never Settle strategic plan, which launched in November, will be set back by the lack of state funding, Hart said the UA will persevere in pursuing the plan’s goals.
The effect the budget will have in the coming year has yet to be determined, according to Andrea Smiley, associate vice president of communications. She said the specifics regarding what the UA will do with the funding it was provided are not yet known.
Morgan Abraham, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and an engineering management senior, said he is saddened by the final budget.
Abraham said that he feels the governor and the Legislature turned their backs on the UA, which is difficult for him both as a UA student and as a native Arizonan. He added that he expects the Never Settle strategic plan and the board of regents’ goals for 2020 will have to be adjusted, because the state isn’t meeting the UA’s needs.
“Higher [education] was obviously not a high priority for any of the legislators who were creating and negotiating the budget this year,” Abraham said.