Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Our Opinion: Legislature, not students, must fund universities

The time has come for the Arizona Board of Regents to just say “no” to another cost increase at the state’s universities.

Arizona’s three universities need the money they seek, certainly.

But approving their proposals will merely continue the spiral the Legislature has set in motion – a vicious cycle that must be shut down.

Again and again, lawmakers chop funding for the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.

Legislators do so despite an edict in the Arizona Constitution that university education in our state shall be “as nearly free as possible.”

Legislators act, knowing that the universities would founder without adequate appropriations – and believing that the regents will be forced to approve any funding increases the universities propose.

The lawmakers are trying to force the regents’ hand, and it’s time the board halts this trend.

Arizona’s universities repeatedly must dream up tuition increases, new fees or, in this latest phase, an “economic recovery surcharge.”

This latest scheme would add $1,100 in costs for UA students, on top of the 10 percent tuition increase enacted in December.

Given the constant increase of fees and tuition rates at UA, even in-state undergraduates – the least expensive category of student – would pay more than $6,000 this year, topping the national average in college tuitions for the first time.

ASU wants a $1,200 surcharge, to last at least two years, while NAU proposes a $350 surcharge.

In this economy, few families can afford the ever-mounting costs of higher education – an education, again, that is to be as nearly free as possible.

Too many promising students are being priced out of higher education, and the buck needs to stop at the Board of Regents meeting April 30.

Regents must shoulder their responsibility to uphold our state constitution – and to advocate for adequate state funding of universities.

No longer can regents simply pass along fee and tuition increases every time lawmakers fail to do their duty.

The Legislature must be held accountable for failing Arizona’s families, and only the regents are in a position to demand change. If legislators do not pony up adequate funding, it may be necessary to turn to the courts to force adherence to the constitution.

The Board of Regents long has sought to keep tuition rates in Arizona at the top of the bottom third among public universities in the nation.

This year, tuitions at UA and ASU would rise above the national median if the surcharges are approved.

Regents, stick to your guns and insist that state government meet its obligations to our universities. Arizona families have long since met theirs.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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