‘Compromise’ budget clears Legislature, awaits Governor’s approval

Late this afternoon, a “compromise” budget gained approval from the full Arizona Legislature. The budget contains a reduction to the Arizona university system of $198 million in FY2012—amounting to a $30 million cut to Northern Arizona University.

The bill now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer for her consideration.

NAU prepared its FY12 budget based on Gov. Brewer’s original recommendation in January for a $170 million reduction to the university system, which would have meant a $25.8 million cut to NAU.

“Northern Arizona University understands the difficult position the Legislature is in, and we believe investing in education is a path to solving our economic challenges,” said NAU President John Haeger. “This additional cut of more than $4 million is significant. We have a long list of items to review before we determine how to deal with this additional reduction.”

Arizona State University’s budget will be reduced by $90 million while the University of Arizona will be cut by $78 million.

The Legislature also passed changes to employee benefits that would create a waiting period of 90 days for new employees before they become eligible for health insurance coverage. It also would change the employee/employer contribution rate to the Arizona State Retirement System from 50/50 to 53 percent for employees and 47 percent for employers. New employees will not be eligible to join ASRS for the first six months of employment.

Additional details on changes to benefits and how it will affect NAU employees is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

“We anticipate that changes to employee benefits and retirement will affect NAU’s ability to recruit and retain qualified employees as well as impact already difficult compensation issues,” Haeger said.

The president has scheduled a campuswide forum for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, at the High Country Conference Center to discuss the next steps with regard to the university’s budget.