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Board of Regents Want $120M More in CIP for Universities

By Eric Jay Toll for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

College of Medicine at Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Photo credit: UA

Is it “reflecting the (universities’) realities,” as Chair Rick Meyers says, or as one legislator puts it, “delusional?” The Arizona Board of Regents is seeking a $203M budget increase for 2014. ABOR says it’s asking for an 11 percent boost over 2013, but State Senator Don Shooter (R.-Yuma) calls it “29 percent.” Whatever the numbers, it’s up to the Governor to take ABOR’s pitch and decide what amount goes to the legislature in January.

ABOR has earmarked $100M for capital improvements in 2014. This is less than one-third of the $375M it approved for capital projects in the three year period between 2014 and 2016 (AZBEX covered the three year CIP for ASU, UA and NAU in October).

The Phoenix Biomedical Campus is slated for another $8M in development for the College of Medicine—the top priority on UA’s revised CIP list. Two new buildings and major facility renovations, NAU’s three top CIP projects, are approved for $25M. ASU is getting $35M for Hayden Library renovations – its number two capital priority. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, ASU’s $129M number one project was not proposed for 2014 funding.

The ABOR process starts with allocating funds over a rolling three year period, then picking specific priorities for the CIP in the upcoming year. The last step, which is reflected by the budget request, is getting the governor and legislature to authorize spending the money.

ABOR’s request may not be favorably received in the Capitol. The Associated Press reports that some legislators are wary of spending more than the current $8.57 billion budget. Republican Sen. Shooter, who leads the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, said the universities’ request for a budget increase he describes as “29 percent,” as ridiculous.

“Do they have any idea that the economy is flat at best?” Shooter said, adding, “They must be delusional because we don’t have any money.”

Myers readily acknowledged that not everything the universities asked for would be funded, but said they wanted to give the governor a better sense of the universities’ needs, and so instead of just focusing on a few items, they laid out their priorities on the table.

Original Source: AZStarNet

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