Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has signed off on a $9.1 billion dollar budget that includes deep reductions in state spending. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, higher education in the state will bear the brunt of the cuts.
The budget slashes nearly a hundred million dollars from Arizona’s three universities — a 14 percent decrease in state funding. It also zeroes out support for the two largest community colleges.
“Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough money to go around to just fund everything as usual,” says Flagstaff Republican State Representative Bob Thorpe, Chairman of the Government and Higher Education Committee.
Thorpe says the cuts were necessary in order to close a nearly billion-and-a-half-dollar budget shortfall anticipated next year.
“I think that what we did with the budget, it’s painful but we’re trying to address that deficit. We’re trying to get to a point where we have a positive revenue flow for the state,” Thorpe says.
Critics of the Arizona plan say it’ll trigger steep reductions in university programs and possible tuition increases. According to a statement by Northern Arizona University President Rita Cheng, $500 million has been cut to state universities since 2008. And the current budget will return NAU’s funding to 1995 levels.