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Higher education funding in Arizona: Starved or fat?

Mark Killian is the chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents, which runs the three state universities. Ernest Calderon is a past chair of that same board.

According to Killian, state funding for the universities has been cut nearly in half over the last several years from approximately $1.1 billion to under $600 million. The universities have roughly doubled tuition over the same period to make up for these lost revenues.

Killian has remarked that the Arizona Legislature may not be abiding by the state’s Constitution, which requires that tuition at the state universities be “as nearly free as possible.” He hinted that he might be in favor of a lawsuit to test whether the state has fulfilled these constitutionally mandated requirements.

This is head-turning stuff. Killian is a former Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and has serious conservative credentials. (He was, for example, one of a minority of representatives who voted NOT to impeach then-Gov. Evan Mecham.) For one with this background to consider taking on the conservative Arizona Legislature is clearly well into “man bites dog” territory.

Hear his perspective and that of the highly articulate Calderon on the status of the state’s universities and the impact on Arizona’s economy.