UPDATE, 4/16: Tucson Citizen editorial.
TUCSON -- Middle-class families whose children attend Arizona universities will file their taxes today, but they’ll have to save up for a new “college tax” they’ll likely face at the end of the month.
Students and their families may have to pick up the tab — $190 million — for Republicans’ deep cuts in the 2009 budget to the state’s university system.
Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University are all proposing extra surcharges tacked onto students’ tuition, the largest to the tune of $1,200 at ASU, which could be approved by the Arizona Board of Regents on April 30.
“Our state’s three universities had no other choice after the legislature made the biggest cuts to public universities in U.S. history,” said House Democratic Policy Leader Steve Farley, D-Tucson (District 28). “In reality, these ‘surcharges’ are a college tax for students.”
The extra charges come after the regents have already increased tuition by 5 percent for current students at ASU and by 10 percent for new students. Without the surcharges, ASU will risk losing thousands of employees and merit scholarships.
"The out-of-touch GOP majority who voted for the big cuts to higher education has forgotten that the Arizona constitution requires us to keep tuition as low absolutely possible," said Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson (District 29). "There are other budget options, such as the House Democrats', that would honor the state constitution we are all sworn to uphold, but they have not yet received the full consideration deserved."
“This is another way of balancing the budget on the backs of the students,” said Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe (District 17). “This time, the legislature is forcing the universities to do it.”
The new fees will put tuition at ASU and UA above the national average for the first time.
“Our state’s constitution requires us to make public higher education as free as possible,” said Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe (District 17). “Our university students are the key to our state’s future economic vitality and taxing them is not the way to get our economy back on track.”
- adapted from House Dems PIO.