NAU President John Haeger declares the 2006-07 state budget recommendation released Jan. 17 by Gov. Janet Napolitano as good for education in Arizona.

“Governor Napolitano’s budget supports education at all levels,” Haeger said. “It is the kind of support that would help raise the profile of Arizona’s commitment to education—from preschool through college.”

The governor’s budget provides for an 11.4 percent increase in state appropriations for NAU, which includes:

  • $4 million for an NAU faculty and staff retention fund
  • $2 million to support Distance Learning efforts to increase accessibility to higher education statewide
  • $2 million for building repairs
  • $1.9 million in performance funding for an increase in the number of degrees awarded last year
  • $1.4 million in operations and maintenance support for new buildings
  • $1 million to expand initiatives to retain and graduate more undergraduate students
  • $1 million to strengthen teacher education

In addition to the proposed NAU faculty and staff retention fund, the governor’s budget recommendation includes a 7.5 percent increase in state employee compensation, which includes salary and benefits. Her budget also provides funds to cover increases in state employer-related contributions to health insurance and the Arizona retirement system.

Napolitano’s budget recommendation is about $7.8 million less than NAU’s budget request, however, Haeger said, “It is a strong budget for Northern Arizona University and for all of education in the state.”

He also cautioned that it is early in the budget process. “There will be a lot of discussions and negotiations with the Legislature before we arrive at a final budget.”

The Legislature has released an initial budget framework that only funds university student growth, which did not occur at NAU. While the Legislature has indicated several leadership priorities, including state employee compensation, capital projects and building repairs, no dollar amounts have been specified.

President Haeger will appear before the House and Senate appropriations committees next week to make the case for strategic investments in the university.