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State cuts another $18M from budget

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday November 27, 2002

In a special session Monday, the state Legislature removed nearly $18 million of the UA's funding in a package of budget cuts that eliminates about $220 million of the state's sprawling deficit.

Though it is too early to know the exact effects this cut will have, a memo from President Pete Likins to the Arizona Board of Regents last week said the reduction will be felt in everything from the loss of jobs to faculty having to remove some garbage themselves to keep their work environments clean.

The UA has been preparing for a 5 percent cut to its budget since Gov. Jane Hull announced in September that was what she intended to propose. The final cuts are slightly larger, 5.4 percent, due to additional cuts in money budgeted for travel, and newspaper and magazine subscriptions, said UA lobbyist Greg Fahey.

The remaining $280 million gap between the state's expenses and its dwindling revenues must wait until January when the Legislature ¸ with its newly elected members ¸ reconvenes.

Though $44.5 million has now been cut from the university's revenue since July, $26.7 million of that before the classes began, UA budget director Dick Roberts said this is just the beginning.

"The other shoe will hit the deck in early January. This story is not going away," Roberts said.

Even when the deficit for 2003 is filled in, next year's budget is expected to bring another $1 billion deficit, said Tim Everill, revenue section chief for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

Though many analysts have said the nation has pulled out of its recession, Everill said Arizona is still stuck.

According to documents from the governor's office, Arizona's sales tax revenue ¸ the state's main source of revenue ¸ continued to decrease through the summer. State income tax revenues have also continued to spiral, down nearly 50 percent this year from last year.

Everill said the solution to this year's budget problems "could go a zillion different directions."

"When (the state's economy) does turn around there is going to be some time before there is revenue," as sales tax takes longer to produce, Everill said.

Two legislative subcommittees created in the spring ¸ the Joint Legislative Income Tax Credit Review Committee and the Tax Reform for Arizona Citizens ¸ are examining the Arizona's current tax structure and may suggest changes.

So long as the state continues to struggle to collect its own revenue, officials said they expect their share of the state's dollars to shrink.

"It just makes you kind of weak in the knees thinking about it," Roberts said.

How the university will specifically make its cuts has mostly been decided, said Provost George Davis. Each dean or department head has met with the vice president above them and those vice presidents then created a plan.

"It seems so difficult to achieve, to add another ($18 million in budget cuts) puts extreme pressure on every unit," Davis said. "And there's kind of a sense here that it's not over."

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