NAU gets FY10 budget; economic outlook remains gloomy

As anticipated, the fiscal year 2010 budget plan passed by the Legislature and recently accepted by Gov. Jan Brewer on Sept. 4 brings Northern Arizona University’s state appropriations to the minimum level to remain eligible for federal stimulus funding.

The university’s FY10 budget is about $134 million, which is about $6 million less than its previously reduced FY09 budget.

“The university had been anticipating for several months that our FY10 budget would be brought to the ‘maintenance of effort’ requirement for federal stimulus dollars,” said NAU President John Haeger. “We planned accordingly and will use savings from our furlough program and revenue from the tuition surcharge and enrollment growth to adjust to our reduced FY10 budget.”

However, Haeger noted, the state budget picture remains gloomy, with a continuing decline in state revenues and a lack of new revenues identified. “The future beyond FY10 remains uncertain and worrisome, particularly as one-time federal stimulus dollars begin to evaporate.”

The budget plan does not include a sweep of auxiliary accounts that fund essential business operations, such as residence halls. The budget further authorizes the university to proceed with legislatively approved SPEED (Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development) projects, but Arizona Lottery revenue deposits to help fund the projects are postponed until FY12.

“We applaud Gov. Brewer for her ongoing efforts to protect education to the extent possible in these difficult economic times,” Haeger said. “We also acknowledge the reality that the recession is far from over in Arizona, so serious and difficult budget decisions will continue into the future.”

While Brewer accepted most of the budget plan, she did veto funding cuts for K-12 and the repeal of the state property tax. Additionally, the plan passed by the Legislature did not include a sales tax increase that the governor has insisted upon.

“Governor Brewer knows that an effective and sustainable education system is a critical part of our state’s future success,” said Arizona Board of Regents President Ernest Calderón. “All of us must continue our support of her vision for Arizona today, because it will lead to the Arizona of tomorrow that we all want and need.”

This summer, NAU did receive about $23.5 million in its first allocation of federal stimulus funding, which was used to avert furloughs, further layoffs and more draconian budget cuts in FY09.