Northern Arizona University President John Haeger is at the state Capitol today to address questions from lawmakers regarding the state’s budget deficit and a proposed reduction to NAU’s current budget.

Haeger noted that budget cuts are early in the discussion stages.

“My intent is to do everything necessary to continue to provide faculty and students with the highest quality learning environment,” Haeger said. “This will be the first of many budget discussions to occur over the next several weeks.”

Gov. Janet Napolitano and legislative leaders have made independent and very different proposals to address a deficit in this year’s state budget.

A proposal by the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees suggests cutting NAU’s budget by $16 million from this year’s state appropriation through June 30. Their budget addresses most of what they believe to be a $970 million deficit.

Napolitano, on the other hand, believes the deficit is at $870 million, and recommends maintaining NAU’s current budget.

“We recognize the urgency of the state’s budget situation and are continuing to exercise prudent and responsible fiscal controls as well as look for additional cost-saving measures to use taxpayer and student tuition dollars wisely,” Haeger explained. “I have asked the university leadership to review all expenditures and move forward only with those deemed essential.”

Haeger noted that education is key to Arizona’s future success, and the universities, in particular, are vital economic engines.

“The budget process will take some time to work through, but we will continue to build on our impressive momentum,” Haeger said.