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Ducey’s Budget Would Create a $600 Million Surplus, But Gives Little to Higher Education

File photo/AP

A new report estimates the state will end this fiscal year with a balance of more than half-a-billion-dollars. It follows the announcement of Governor Doug Ducey’s 2017 budget proposal, which doesn’t include last year’s steep cuts to higher education and other state services. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Arizona’s three universities lost $99 million in 2016. Many in the state, including some lawmakers and the Arizona Board of Regents, have called for those funds to be restored.

Ducey’s budget proposal, however, reinstates only $8 million to higher education, with Northern Arizona University receiving about $1.5 million. NAU lost more than $17 million last year.

Ducey says more university funding may be on the table in the future, but balancing the state budget is his first priority.

“We want to invest in universities. I’m a big fan of our state universities, I’m a product of our state universities,” Ducey says. “We’re going to change the trend line on that, but we’re also going to be responsible with this budget and make sure we don’t go back into the hole that we spent years digging out of.”

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee in its most recent report, estimates the governor’s budget would put the state more than $600 million in the black at the end of the 2017 fiscal year. The JLBC also reports, as of December, Arizona had a revenue surplus for 12 straight months.

Lawmakers are currently considering Ducey’s 2017 budget proposal.

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