/ Modified jan 22, 2014 4:35 p.m.

UA Seeking Funding for Farm Outreach, Tuition Balance

Annual budget request to state lawmakers calls for more money than governor has proposed.


The University of Arizona is requesting money to boost its cooperative extension program, a community-outreach branch of the university that was heavily cut during the recession.

Gov. Jan Brewer's budget recommendation calls for about $175 million in new spending next fiscal year than this year, said Tim Bee, senior associate vice president University of Arizona.

About 17 percent of that new spending is for the university system, including Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the UA, said Bee, the UA's chief state lobbyist.

That figure includes $3.5 million for cooperative extension, which includes 4-H programs and agricultural extension programs. Bee said the funding is important because it is the outreach arm of the university.

"That portion of our budget is not supported in any way by tuition of our students," he said, which is why funding was cut in recent years. "It's a transfer of knowledge from research to the public so it's a very important role that we have and its a statewide role."

State lawmakers and the governor will likely spend the next few months negotiating differences in their budget proposals, and Bee said he will be in touch with both sides to try ensuring the UA's priorities are included in the final budget.

The UA is also hoping to get funding for a veterinary education program, Bee said.

Brewer called for the universities to stabilize tuition for students in her State of the State speech. Students need the reliability of tuition that won't change for four years, she said.

The Board of Regents said last week it cannot force tuition stability in the three universities without stabilized funding from the the state for the university system. Bee echoed that sentiment regarding the UA.

During the recession, he said, the UA "switched from being mostly state supported to mostly tuition supported," which is why tuition has risen dramatically in the last five years.

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