Brewer seeks to stabilize tuition, abolish CPS for 2014
Gov. Jan Brewer asked the Arizona Board of Regents to stabilize tuition rates in her State of the State address Monday.
Brewer said students and their families are tired of tuition hikes and that the state has a responsibility keep education affordable.
“Students expect it, and Arizona’s tax-paying parents deserve it,” she said.
The governor requested that ABOR hold tuition stable for each graduation cohort so that students pay the same tuition from freshman to senior year.
NAU already guarantees its main campus students the same tuition rate for all four years of their education, but ASU and UA do not.
ABOR President Eileen Klein said in a press release that Brewer’s request aligns with the board’s continuing goals of access and affordability.
“Just as Arizona suffered from one of the worst recessions in the nation, state budget cuts to Arizona’s public universities were also among the worst in the nation, resulting in a massive cost shift from the state to students and their families,” Klein said.
Tuition increases have been “zero to moderate” as public funding has returned to the universities in the wake of the recession, she said.
Arizona legislators cut funding for higher education by 50 percent during the recession.
All three state universities increased their tuition rates last year. ASU and UA increased their rates by 3 percent and NAU increased its rates by 5 percent.
Brewer also announced plans to overhaul Arizona’s child welfare system, which she called “broken.”
She said she signed an executive order on Monday morning to abolish Child Protective Services and establish a new division of family services headed by Charles Flanagan, whom Brewer appointed in 2011 as director of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections.
The Office of Child Welfare Investigation found that CPS failed to respond to thousands of cases and despite the agency making “tremendous strides” after the review, further action is needed to improve child welfare in Arizona, Brewer said.
She advocated a new statutory agency and called on the legislature to codify a new, permanent agency.
Brewer lauded the state’s financial progress out of the recession, referring to it as “the Arizona comeback.”
“I am proud to report to you today that Arizona’s fiscal health is in order,” she said. “There is no doubt Arizona is back on track.”
Brewer said Arizona had a deficit of $3 billion in 2009 but now has a surplus of $9 million.
She said the progress was the result of government streamlining.
Arizona also made changes during the recession that attracted more business to the state, she said.
Taxes on businesses, such as capital gains taxes, were reduced and sales tax was simplified into a statewide system, Brewer said.
She said progress was so great that Arizona is now recognized by Forbes magazine as the top state for expected job growth.
“Our message to job creators has been heard: Arizona is open for business,” Brewer said.
She said her job goals for 2014 include eliminating sales tax on manufacturers and making the state more attractive for companies creating high-paying technology jobs.
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Kennedy Scott contributed to this article.