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Ducey boosts funding for state universities in budget proposal

Doug Ducey's inauguration

Gov. Doug Ducey walks on stage to take his oath of office at the state Capitol courtyard on Jan. 5, 2015.

Gov. Doug Ducey released his fiscal 2017 budget proposal Friday, which provides a small morsel of added funding for universities and a giant chunk of funds for K-12 programs.

In his proposal, Ducey said the budget makes "significant new investments in our universities," providing state colleges with an added $4 million in funding. The proposal also notes an added $14 million of ongoing spending in 2017.

However, this boost in funds follows his almost $100 million slash in public university funding in the previous fiscal year.

Despite the minor boost, Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein was optimistic for the future.

“Is the governor’s planned budget for public universities everything we had hoped for? Certainly not," Klein said. "But it represents a critical departure from the past eight years,"

She said it's a small step in the right direction, ending an era of cuts to public universities.

"Today begins a new day for the public universities and their relationship with the governor," Klein said.

ABOR is going to be partnering with Ducey in a study to review university funding models and cost containment.

There was a boost in K-12 education funding this year as well, the budget proposal allocated $106 million in additional money programs. This funding also comes on top of a $3.5 billion funding package, with money coming primarily out of state land trusts (money saved up over time for the state).

A small part of this, about $6 million, will go to providing schools with incentives to to offer college prep programs like Advanced Placement and honors. 

The idea behind this was to boost graduation rates and college admission rates, getting more students involved with these college preparation programs.

"I am pleased to once again hear the governor’s commitment to a structurally balanced budget, while we also meet the pressing needs of our state,” Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs said in a statement.

So while the funding was small, Klein said she's excited to work with Ducey to turn trends. While she was disappointed because ABOR was hoping for more monetary support, she said she's looking toward the future for the public universities.

"We're going continue to fight for every dollar we get, but also, every cent matters," she said.

Reach the assistant news editor at or follow @meganjanetsky on Twitter.

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