Some of you may be aware that many states are in real financial dire-straits. Arizona is one such state. We have a strongly faltering economy (largely because of the popped housing bubble in Phoenix), a governor who is leaving for the new cabinet and legislature made of whackaloons. All of this means bad news for education budgets but I never imagined it could get this bad.
Earlier today legislative leadership put forward figures on possible cuts to higher education in the State of Arizona. They have suggested mid-year cuts to the university system that could total $243 million – approximately one-quarter of the entire budget, with a total reduction of $388 million into fiscal year 2010.Mid-year cuts to the University of Arizona would total $103 million under this scenario.
These figures are so extreme that they would absolutely cripple higher education in our state. At the very time that our state needs to stimulate the economy, the Legislature is talking about absolutely devastating cuts to the most powerful economic engine in our state. If enacted, these cuts would compound the current economic challenges in our state and make it harder for Arizona to recover from the recession. This is simply irresponsible.
The state needs to protect its universities – not dismantle them – if it has any hope of building an economy for the future or aspiring to more than mediocrity.
We are very conscious of the difficult deficit challenge facing the state, and all three universities are prepared to do their part to cut budgets. But cuts of this magnitude would
bring irreparable damage. It would force the closure of colleges, increase the costs for attendance, and ultimately cut access to the best hope of a better way of life for our young people. Compounding the budget cuts are proposals to micro-manage the universities. This is simply unacceptable.
We plan to continue conversations with the governor and key legislators, and to focus on helping them understand the key role that The University of Arizona plays in spurring the
economy, improving the quality of life in the state and affording access to upward mobility. And we encourage every citizen of this state who cares about their quality of life – who wants their children or grandchildren to have an opportunity to attend a quality university – to speak up now and to speak loudly. (emphasis mine)
Bad indeed. If you live in Arizona, write your legislator now! I have seen the news on education cuts at many other Universities but I have not heard of any other University system potentially facing an immediate 25% cut. At this point it is not clear what all of this means for people like me but those that are state funding lines are, quite rightfully, freaking the fuck out.
On a more general note, I find it quite depressing that the powers that be in this state cannot see the economic downturn as an opportunity to focus on basics: education and innovation. If the State of Arizona was to be taken as a leader in dealing with the economic troubles that we are facing we would be in for a long and drawn out depression with very little chance for recovery. Hopefully 49 other states will ignore the dismal example that this state is about to set.