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College Costs Emerge as First Issue in Governor’s Race

Ryan Heinsius

Republicans are making the cost of attending college in the state an issue in the governor’s race. But, as Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports, the issue is more complex than the pure dollar figures.

The Republican Governors Association is spending more than $600,000 to air new TV commercials citing the doubling of tuition at state universities during the six years Democrat Fred DuVal was on the Board of Regents.

The commercial says, “Lobbyist Fred DuVal made middle class families pay more. Come on, Fred. That’s just not fair.”

Those claims of tuition hikes are true, with costs doubling between 2007 and 2012. But, former Regent Anne Mariucci, a Republican who served with DuVal on the board, said those numbers — and the RGA commercial — don’t tell the whole story.

“The tuition increase is a direct correlation with the state funding cuts, which is a direct correlation with the economy. So it isn’t to poke a finger in the eye of everybody,” Mariucci said.

Legislative budget analysts put per-student state aid for universities at nearly $8,700 for the 2007 school year. Five years later the amount the Republican-controlled Legislature was providing had dropped to less than $5,400. Put another way, lawmakers provided almost 30 percent of all funds for universities in 2007; by 2012 the state-provided share dropped to less than 17 percent, with the balance having to be made up somewhere else — including tuition.

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