State Legislature to Debate University Funding

Jan 13, 2014

A fight is brewing at the capitol over how much more money — if any — to give to the state’s three universities. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Northern Arizona University's Mountain Campus
Credit NAU

The entire university system got an extra $28 million last year. But the move left a bad taste in the mouth of House Speaker Andy Tobin after the Board of Regents turned around and hiked tuition anyway. But, House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said the regents had no choice because lawmakers have short-changed the universities for so many years. Gov. Jan Brewer gets to set the stage this week when she unveils her own budget proposal. But, the governor was noncommittal.

“Well, I think it’s something that certainly needs to be discussed,” Brewer said. “And, of course, education is one of my top priorities. And I’m sure that we’ll be discussing it in depth when we get the session started.”

Senate President Andy Biggs said there’s another side to all that: students graduating with large debts and no marketable skills. He said the universities share some blame for that.

“They know where you can get jobs with an anthropology/archaeology degree. They know where you can get jobs; they know how many of their students. They’re graduating 20-a-year and two of them are working in the field. Hey, why don’t you tell them that?” Biggs said.

Lawmakers convene at the Capitol today.