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With State-Revenue Spike, Lawmakers Talk Restoring Higher-Education Funding


Arizona unexpectedly ended the 2015 fiscal year $325 million in the black. As a result, some lawmakers are discussing restoring the funds cut from the state’s three public universities in the current budget. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

This year, higher education in Arizona lost nearly $100 million, with Northern Arizona University alone taking a $17.3 million hit. The cuts triggered layoffs and deep spending reductions.

Flagstaff Republican State Representative Bob Thorpe is the chairman of the House Government and Higher Education Committee.

“I think Flagstaff and NAU have a more difficult time absorbing those types of cuts than Tucson would – U-of-A or ASU. I’m hoping that we can do a full restoration, but if we’re not I would certainly fight for getting at least some restoration,” Thorpe says.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee says Arizona’s surprise revenue spike over the last several months came from capital gains and corporate taxes. But they say those sources are unpredictable and shouldn’t be counted on for permanent revenue. Thorpe says many lawmakers would rather see higher rates of personal income tax withholding and increased sales tax revenue before boosting state spending.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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