Senator disregards scholarship proposals

By Beth Silver

Arizona Daily Wildcat

PHOENIX Two scholarship bills and a tuition prepayment program will be dead on arrival when they hit the House and Senate Appropriation Committees, the chairs said Wednesday after a luncheon put on by student lobbyists to muster support for the programs.

Sen. Carol Springer, R-Prescott, who chairs the Senate committee that decides how much state money will go to legislative bills, said she refuses to hear the bills because the state has no money for them.

And Rep. Bob Burns, R-Glendale, said there is no use for him to hear the bills if Springer does not.

The Arizona Students' Association has been supporting the ASPIRE program, which would pay tuition for "at-risk" third grade students if they maintain good grades and stay out of trouble with the law.

"We still haven't seen any evidence that there is matching money," Springer said of the program, which calls for $300,000 in state funds and $600,000 in private donations each year after the first year.

ASA also is asking for a $400,000 work-study program in which the state would subsidize student internships and $400,000 to start a tuition prepayment program.

"We cannot appropriate money we don't have," Springer said. She also said there are unfunded mandates which the state needs to take care of first.

About 100 students met with 60 state lawmakers Wednesday to lobby for the scholarship programs. The two groups dined together across from the capitol and the students then marched across the street to protest the legislative leadership's lack of support for scholarship programs.

"I think that when one person (Springer) abuses her chair to hold up the entire legislative process, the lawmakers should reconsider whether she's doing her job," said Paul Allvin, ASA executive director. "At least give us a hearing."

Burns said he does not have time this session to meet with the students.

"We're trying to hold the line on new programs," he said. "I would say the outlook is not real bright for a hearing."

If the students fail to change the appropriation chairs' minds, Allvin said there is a slim chance they could bypass the committees by attaching the programs to existing bills. If that is done, the appropriations committees would not have to hear them.

Sen. John Wettaw, R-Flagstaff, a sponsor of work study and prepaid tuition, said he is not giving up, and he does not "know how anything will turn out until the end."

Sen. John Huppenthal, R-Chandler and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he will hear the students' bills, but does not support the state giving money to the scholarship programs.

"The universities have to solve it within the constructs of their budgets," he said. "I think work-study is great, but I don't think the Legislature should be funding it."

Last week the House Education Committee unanimously endorsed funding ASPIRE. Rep. Joe Hart, R-Kingman and chairman of the House Public Institutions and Universities Committee, said he will hear the prepaid tuition and work study bills.

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