Governor vetoes lump-sum cuts to education, calls special session


Gov. Jan Brewer today used her line-item veto authority to remove lump-sum budget reductions to the universities in the legislative budget that was forwarded to her early this morning, and she has called for a special session of the Legislature to begin Monday, July 6.

As a result of the governor’s actions, all state agencies and the universities will continue to operate as normal.

Calling the legislative budget “fatally flawed,” Brewer also vetoed the rollover, or deferral, of payments to the universities and attempts by the Legislature to appropriate federal stimulus funds allocated to the governor for distribution. Signing into law other portions of the budget bills had the effect of eliminating the proposed fund sweeps to university auxiliary accounts.

In essence, the governor’s veto action resets Northern Arizona University’s budget to the fiscal year 2009 level.

The governor also vetoed all policy-related budget bills, which had included a uniform system of university accounting, modifying the SPEED (Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development) program, changes to health benefits for domestic partners, reporting on cell phone expenditures and reporting on speakers invited to the university campuses.

“The legislative budget ignores my consistently expressed goals and instead incorporates devastating cuts to education, public safety and our state’s most vital health services for the frail,” according to a statement the governor released.

“Therefore, I have carefully and selectively chosen to line-item veto portions of the legislation which allows me to add back funds for vital services…Additionally, due to my actions today, state government services will continue to function. Improvements in education funding, however, will require significantly more legislative work,” Brewer said.

The subject of the special session will be adjustments necessary to address the state budget for the entire 2009-10 fiscal year and the imposition of a temporary tax to raise state revenues for primary and secondary education, health and human services and public safety expenditures.

“Northern Arizona University greatly appreciates the governor’s unwavering commitment to higher education and the critical needs of the state,” commented NAU President John Haeger.

“(Gov. Brewer) is showing strong, prudent leadership in standing firm that minimizing cuts to services, coupled with a temporary sales tax increase to bring in critical new revenue, are the right combination of actions needed to successfully lead our state out of this unprecedented fiscal crisis,” said Arizona Board of Regents’ President Ernest Calderón.

Brewer said she seeks a budget that “neither overspends nor underfunds.” She asked legislators to “rededicate themselves in a bipartisan fashion to crafting a budget that reflects favorably on the future of Arizona.”

View the details of Gov. Jan Brewer’s line-item vetoes here.