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Lack of Funding Hinders Growth: The Current State of ASU's Polytechnic campus Funding


February 12, 2001

Since fall 1996, student enrollment has nearly doubled, yet general funding for ASU's Polytechnic campus has been virtually stagnant.

The greatest increase in enrollment has occurred during the last two years--more than 75%--yet the state general fund appropriation to ASU's Polytechnic campus has increased by only 10% during that time. If the lack of funding continues, ASU's Polytechnic campus will be turning away students during the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 academic years.

It's clear that ASU's Polytechnic campus cannot handle the double-digit enrollment increases projected for the next two academic years without additional operating funds. The $9.3 million additional funding being requested is needed to help cover the cost of hiring faculty and staff, providing additional courses, programs and basic student services, updating lab equipment, purchasing library resources, and other miscellaneous operating expenses.

As many of you know, two possible scenarios affecting ASU's Polytechnic campus's future are currently in progress. One is that the additional funding needed to grow is worked into the biennial budget.

In late January, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees heard the JLBC and Governor's budget recommendations. Unfortunately, neither budget recommendation addresses ASU's Polytechnic campus's needs. Because of a funding formula that only applies to the main campuses of the three state universities, funding for development at new campuses is non-existent.

The Appropriations Committees can amend the budget recommendations and affect them either positively or negatively. You can still contact the legislators who are members of these committees on behalf of ASU's Polytechnic campus.

The second scenario is a bill appropriating the funds if funding does not make it through the normal budget process.

Senator Jay Blanchard (District 30) and Representative Meg Burton Cahill (District 27) are sponsoring bills (Senate: SB 1432 and House: HB2554) that appropriate $6.2 million from the state general fund in FY 2001-2002 and $3.1 million in FY 2002-2003 to ASU's Polytechnic campus for new campus development and related expenses.

If the budget cannot be affected through the Appropriations Committees' processes, the Senate and House bills will be pursued as an alternate avenue to increasing ASU's Polytechnic campus's general fund appropriation.

If you are wondering how Prop 301 impacts the campus operating budget, basically, it does not. Funds from Prop 301 have been earmarked specifically for research programs and capital improvements and exclude funding for managing enrollment growth or development.

The future of the institution is literally in the hands of the legislature. Capping enrollment may be our only option if no actions are taken. ASU's Polytechnic campus is a key player in the growth that is occurring in the Gilbert, Higley, Mesa, Queen Creek and Williams Gateway areas. As a state institution, turning away students is not a good way to serve these local communities, our state or the generations of students to come.

Future updates to the budget and bills will be announced, distributed or posted.

You still have time to be heard and to write your legislators. Resources are available at advocates.zsundevils.com. For more information on the status of legislative issues impacting ASU's Polytechnic campus, visit www.azleg.az.us.