Regents seek more money for state universities

The Arizona Board of Regents is requesting more funding for the state university system for fiscal year 2014. ASU is asking for $113 million from ABOR’s budget proposal, which is now being reviewed by Gov. Jan Brewer and will be submitted to the Legislature in January. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)

The Arizona Board of Regents is asking for a $202.8 million increase in funding from the state for fiscal year 2014, according to ABOR’s final budget numbers.

The operating budget request for $910 million is a 29 percent jump from the 2013 budget.

The ABOR budget seeks to continue a five-year plan approved by legislators in 2012 to help close the per-student funding gap between ASU, NAU and UA.

ABOR’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 was submitted to Gov. Jan Brewer in October for her review.

The request seeks $81.9 million in performance-based funding and $120.9 million for capital improvement projects.

ASU’s possible share of the requested money is nearly $113.5 million.

Of that, $35 million would go to upgrade Hayden Library.

ASU would receive $11.9 million toward achieving parity, $22.3 million on the basis of student performance, $36.2 million for building repairs and fire code upgrades.

The budget would also allocate $7.8 million for providing Maricopa County Community College District advisers with eAdvisor software to facilitate student transfers.

Associate Vice President of Planning and Budget Lisa Frace said ASU realizes these are only requests for funding, but Brewer should add most of ASU’s financial needs to her final budget proposal to the Legislature next January.

“Take, for instance, the statutory building request,” she said. “It has not been properly funded since 2007.  This means many building repairs have had to be put on hold for a while.”

Frace said student tuition increases in past years have only been able to cover about 50 percent of state funding cuts.

She said ASU’s per-student funding from the state is at its lowest level since 1960 when adjusted for inflation.

John Arnold, director of the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, said Arizona is still facing hard decisions concerning upcoming budgets, because the state’s economy is recovering slowly.

“We are in the process of reviewing and analyzing the 2014 budget,” Arnold said.  “We are trying to determine where state tax dollars should be best spent.”

Arizona saw a 33 percent drop in overall revenues from 2008 to 2012, falling from $9.5 billion in revenue, Arnold said.

He said Brewer’s administration did what it had to do to balance the budget in prior years, but the state reported a surplus of approximately $800 million in July.

Regents gathered Thursday and Friday in Tucson for ABOR’s semi-annual board meeting.

ABOR spokeswoman Sarah Harper said it will be a “good day” for students across the university system if the 2014 budget request is approved by the state.

“Between 2008 and 2012, we took a 40 percent cut in base funding,” Harper said. “We still remain below peer institutions in the region in state funding.”

The state’s general budget must be approved before the legislative year ends in April.

 

Reach the reporter at rvalcho@asu.edu or follow him on twitter at @rvalcho