State Capitol News
12:00 am
Fri January 4, 2008

Proposed budget cuts target universities

Phoenix, AZ – The top budget drafters at the
Legislature have unveiled a plan
to cut more than 600 million in spending. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer details some of what is being proposed.

The plan by the chairmen of the House and Senate
Appropriations Committees would reduce eligibility for
various state programs, including one which provides
health insurance for the children of the working poor.
It also would eliminate new funding to help teach math
and science and take back an extra $15.3 million
lawmakers gave to public schools above what a formula
requires the state to provide. And all three state
universities would take 10 percent across-the-board
cuts. Sen. Bob Burns sidestepped the question of
whether such drastic cuts would permanently damage the
schools.

(We have authorized spending far in excess of what we
have available to spend. So we are going to have to
make, I believe, some very painful decisions in order
to get this fiscal house back in order.)

The plan also envisions making up the nearly $1 billion
gap between revenues and expenses by having part of the
cost of the Highway Patrol paid by gasoline taxes and
vehicle registration fees. But that, in turn, will
slash funds for road construction. It does share
something in common with the plan unveiled Thursday by
Gov. Janet Napolitano: It would tap the state's rainy
day fund, though it would take much more than she
proposes. Hearings on how to balance the budget begin
Tuesday.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard
Fischer.