Governor’s budget plan supports many NAU requests

As the 2007-08 state budget process moves forward, Northern Arizona University President John Haeger is pleased to see that the budget recommendation from the governor’s office is in sync with several of the university’s requests.

“Governor Janet Napolitano’s budget recommendation puts the numbers behind the commitment to education she expressed in her State of the State address,” Haeger said.

The governor’s budget proposal includes the $4 million NAU has requested to expand health professions programs in Flagstaff and throughout the state and to establish new programs in medical technology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant.

Napolitano’s executive budget also includes a 3.5 percent salary increase and provides $4.7 million for student and faculty retention. The $4.7 million would be used to ensure smaller classes for freshmen taught by full-time faculty and to provide more access to advising. The executive budget notes that the funding would be used to reward academic units based on their ability to increase student retention rates.

Haeger has announced a universitywide goal of retaining 73 percent of the students who move from freshman to sophomore. The fall 2006 retention rate was 71.8 percent.

The executive budget further provides for $3.5 million in enrollment growth funding due, in large part, to NAU’s record enrollment last fall. Other executive budget funding includes:

  • $5.9 million for research infrastructure financing. The Legislature passed a bill in 2004 to finance university projects for research infrastructure. The $5.9 million will cover the debt service for $75 million dollars of projects that are either already completed or under way. The projects include:
  • $15 million for Engineering building renovation
  • $18 million for the Applied Research and Development facility
  • $33 million for the new laboratory facility
  • $4 million for the NAU-Yuma applied research facility
  • $5 million for north campus research infrastructure
  • $1.5 million to increase the number of math and science teachers in Arizona
  • $500,000 continuation funding for the Arizona Water Institute
  • $79,000 in performance funding for awarding more degrees and for increasing the number of degrees awarded in engineering, education and clinical health

The governor’s state budget recommendation proposes $24 million in additional funding to NAU, a 17 percent increase over last year.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee also has released its budget recommendation, which includes $4.4 million in enrollment growth, a 2.5 percent pay package for state employees and $5.9 million in research infrastructure.

Budget negotiations between the executive branch and the Legislature will continue for the next several months before a state budget is finalized.