Kavanaugh Argues Over Budget Funds For University Students

January 20, 2014

The battle over how to spend the state’s money gets underway in earnest this week, as lawmakers start to pick apart the budget plan they were sent Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer. The head of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. John Kavanaugh, is arguing Arizona is spending too much on students who should not be in college.

“If you go back to the '70s and before then, it was your best students that were going to the universities,” Kavanaugh said. “Now, almost anybody can go to college.”

Kavanaugh said that is not necessarily a good thing, when those educations are being subsidized with state tax money.

“We spread limited money over a large area, and we have a lot of college graduates who are working in retail and food service jobs,” Kavanaugh said. “Is that really a good way to spend money?”

However, Rick Myers, who chairs the Arizona Board of Regents, said if the state is to prosper, it needs more college grads than the 24,000-a-year the university system is producing now.

“I can't believe anyone that's an elected official in Arizona, representing our citizens, wouldn't appreciate that we need to have enough to be competitive, to give our state and our people a chance to have the life that they deserve,” Myers said.

The governor’s budget essentially gives no new money to the universities, despite their request for an extra $100 million. It does contain some money to equalize per student funding among the three state universities. One of the reasons university funds remain in short supply is the still shaky Arizona revenue picture.