Arizona Republican legislators, Ducey agree on new budget proposal

Gov. Doug Ducey walks on stage to take his oath of office at the state Capitol courtyard on Jan. 5, 2015. (Photo by Emily Johnson) Gov. Doug Ducey walks on stage to take his oath of office at the state Capitol courtyard on Jan. 5, 2015. Ducey's budget now cuts more than $100 million from universities and all funding from the state's three largest community districts. (Photo by Emily Johnson)

Gov. Doug Ducey has reached an agreement with Republican leadership in the Arizona Legislature on a state budget that may include significantly larger cuts to higher education, causing students to re-evaluate future tuition costs.

The agreement could increase cuts to roughly $106 million from Ducey's originally proposed $78 million. It could also eliminate state funding for Maricopa, Pima and Pinal county community colleges by nearly doubling community college cuts from $10 million to $19 million.

Arizona Board of Regents spokeswoman Katie Pacquet said the board will manage these potential budget changes with as few complications as possible.

“Our board has been very cautious about raising tuition, and certainly these cuts will make it harder to maintain the line on tuition,” she said. “These are big numbers that we are talking about, and the board and the president understand that short-term fixes need to happen in order to wade out the current situation we’re in.”

Despite potential increases, Michael Crow said the University will continue to hold a tuition line for in-state students “no matter what,” during a University official meeting last January.

Following news of Ducey’s new budget plan, however, University administration declined to comment.

“From ABOR’s perspective, we are absolutely concerned about keeping higher education affordable for students and families,” she said. “We are staying steadfast that cuts at universities need to be minimal. … We are working diligently to keep cuts down.”

While the agreement remains unofficial, however, students such as English literature sophomore Ashlei Holtson said she fears students will face increased expenses.

“It sounds like this is really going to affect students the most because budget cuts mean more expenses for students,” she said. “I know that this is Ducey just trying to get an agenda out as quickly as possible, but the effects this is going to have in the upcoming semesters is going to make it really hard for students to afford going to school.”

However, students who already rely on student loans will manage the tuition increase, architecture sophomore Zach Braun said.

“Tuition for going to ASU in-state really isn’t that bad –– it’s for people who come from out-of-state that it would be (more difficult),” he said. “But people are already willing to pay for that tuition, then I can’t really imagine that they would be more discouraged.”

Loan increases will make tuition more demanding for minority students, Braun said.

“I’m assuming the loans will get larger and I can see how that would discourage a lot of people who rely on funding from the school to come and participate,” he said. “People who are disadvantaged tend to often be minorities, so it might be difficult for them to come back and have an equal chance.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of the ABOR spokesperson mentioned in the article. This version has been updated with the proper information. 

 

Reach the reporter at aplante@asu.edu or follow @aimeenplante on Twitter.

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