A legislative panel voted Thursday to reduce ASU’s state funding by almost $90 million next year.
Senate Bill 1612, sponsored by Sen. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, passed the House Appropriations Committee 9-3 and will proceed to the House floor. The original version of the bill cut funding to Arizona’s universities by about $107 million.
In January, Gov. Jan Brewer proposed cutting funding for all three universities by $170 million. ASU’s tuition increase proposal that will be considered by the Arizona Board of Regents April 7 was drafted based on Brewer’s budget plan.
ASU President Michael Crow said the University does not intend to raise tuition if the state approves larger cuts, but said there is a possibility of reducing the school’s financial aid.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the cuts were necessary.
“Nobody likes taking away things,” Kavanagh said. “It’s a difficult budget but a necessary budget.”
Republicans said this budget was balanced and did not roll over deficits into next year.
Vice Chairman Steve Court, R-Mesa, who’s been in office since 2009, said this was the first budget he voted for that he felt “reasonably good about.”
“We’ve made a big step this year by not doing the rollovers and accruing more debt,” Court said.
Rep. Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson, said this budget unfairly shifts the financial responsibilities of the state.
“This budget balances the state budget but carries that burden over to the counties and cities,” Tovar said.
The committee’s vote was a choice, not a necessity, said Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix.
Campbell is a longtime supporter of closing loopholes in the state tax code. He said this will bring in more revenue to the state and is an alternative to cutting funding for programs.
“I am hoping that sometime in the future we’re going to figure out we need to do this,” Campbell said of reforming the tax code. “[Residents] are sick of seeing Arizona going down this pathway that is taking us from what used to be a very competitive state to one that is falling behind.”
The Senate will consider the House’s budget plan on Friday. If both approve the same budget, it will then go to the governor.
Republicans hold a large enough majority in both houses to override a veto and pass a budget without Democratic support.
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