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Students to lobby against cuts

Headline Photo

Undeclared freshman Josh Wright hands a completed voter registration form to ASA co-director Denny Marta on the Mall yesterday at noon. ASA plans to shuttle at least 100 students to Phoenix next month for a special legislative session that will determine how much the UA will have to cut from its budget to offset state budget shortfalls.

By Daniel Scarpinato

Wednesday October 31, 2001

ASA will shuttle at least 100 students to special legislative session next month

Student lobbyists plan to shuttle at least 100 students to Phoenix for a special legislative session that could define the size of state-mandated budget cuts.

The cuts will slice $13.8 million, or 4 percent, from the UA's 2002 fiscal year budget, but the Legislature could raise that amount at the special session, which is slated to begin Nov. 13.

University of Arizona officials have already taken back money from advising, frozen hiring and minimized the amount of technology in the new Integrated Learning Center to accommodate the cuts.

Arizona Students' Association leaders are rolling up their sleeves and rolling out their ammunition to battle the possibility of a cut larger than 4 percent.

ASA co-director Jenny Rimsza explained that student lobbyists from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University are united along with the UA in the anti-cut campaign.

"We're all coming together with the same message," she said. "No more than 4 (percent). Right now we're being positive. We won't be out with picket signs."

Of course, positive doesn't mean quiet.

"We are not just educating students," said Denny Marta, ASA co-director. "We want them to get involved. We want them to know this impacts them."

Students and legislators will speak outside the State Capitol before the session, and students will have the opportunity to go inside and watch.

Gov. Jane Dee Hull announced the cuts last month. She is expected to release her budget cut recommendations sometime this week.

Francie Noyes, Hull's press secretary, said earlier this month that the governor is committed to "keeping the bar" at 4 percent.

UA President Peter Likins said that despite the governor's statement and commitments from members of the Arizona Senate to not let the cut exceed 4 percent, larger cuts still threaten the university.

"It's very, very gratifying that the governor is going to publicly declare her commitment to try to keep it at 4 percent. It's very, very gratifying that the Senate may hold at 4 percent," Likins said. "We do not have the (Arizona House of Representative) and it's not done by any means."

News of the governor's commitment does bring hope to ASA's fight, but Marta explained that the effort will not end on Nov. 13.

He said that because this is an election year, the decision about the size of the cuts could be pushed back as far as May.

He added that ASA will be vocal in the drafting of the UA's 2003 fiscal year budget, which could also face midyear budget cuts next year.

Likins said the Legislature must do more than keep the cuts low.

"It's not good enough to say we want to hold the cut for the universities at 4 percent unless you have a plan for dealing with the balance of the shortfall," he said. "There has to be a lot of political trade off before we get a consensus not just about the universities' (budgets) but about everything else."

He reiterated that the state must take a serious look at financing new school construction through bonds rather than paying for it out of pocket like it currently does.

Hull has expressed interest in such a plan, and ASA is also supporting ways of finding the money such as bonding and using the state's $306 million "rainy day fund," Rimsza said.

ASA will be on the UA Mall this week and next registering students to vote and handing out information.

Students interested in attending the special session or participating in ASA's taskforce can call ASA at 621-6306 or e-mail


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