DECISION FOLLOWS STATE ELIMINATING PCC FUNDING
By ANDREW PAXTON
Pima Community College’s governing board voted to increase tuition days after the state eliminated funding to the college.
Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona Legislature delivered the final blow to state funding for PCC with the release of the 2016 state budget on March 7.
The budget eliminates the final state allocation to PCC, which totaled $7.1 million in 2014. As recently as 2008, the state provided about 15 percent of the college’s budget, although that number dwindled to less than 5 percent.
“I am extremely disappointed to report to you that the new budget eliminates all state funding for Pima Community College … reducing our three primary revenue streams to two with the stroke of a pen,” PCC chancellor Lee Lambert wrote in an email.
“These resources are essential as we train students so they can propel our region’s economic development,” Lambert said.
Pima’s governing board voted to raise tuition by $5 per credit hour on March 11, making in-state tuition $75.50 per unit starting in Fall 2015. Most PCC classes are three or four units.
The raise was foreshadowed days earlier when Lambert talked about “hard decisions” following the release of the state budget.
“The college has a history of keeping tuition low, as we recognize many of our students are of modest means,” Lambert said.
“We must balance the need to keep tuition increases reasonable with the need for revenue to continue to provide high-quality programs and services that deliver value to students and the community.”
The college also increased the semester processing fee from $10 to $15.
Pima eliminated the $15 graduation application fee and a $2 fee for student identification cards.
Lambert said administrators have been meeting with student government leaders “to share information and gain their insights,” regarding tuition and fee increases.
The college also considered raises of $10 and $15 per credit hour, which student leaders opposed.
Pima has been anticipating cuts to its state funding and has been planning for possible shortfalls.
“The budget planning process puts us in a strong position as we determine how proposed cuts could impact our operations and our students,” Lambert said.
Pima has prepared different action plans for budget reductions ranging from $5-$15 million.
“However, the proposed cuts would compromise our ability to provide affordable and modern training opportunities for Arizona’s future workforce,” Lambert said.
State universities are also taking about $99 million in cuts.
“This is a values-based budget that reflects key priorities for the state of Arizona,” Ducey said in a statement shortly after the budget plan was released.
Lambert pledged “to minimize the damage to the college wrought by the state’s decision.”
“I have been heartened by the outpouring of support for PCC from students and all corners of the community as the state’s budget direction became clear,” he said.
“Our customers and constituents understand that PCC’s continued delivery of quality education is crucial if students are to achieve their personal vision of the American Dream, and that our students form the backbone of a stable, healthy, economically vibrant Tucson.”
Lambert will host several information meetings to give more details about how the budget cuts will impact the college.
“The meetings are meant to convey the latest information and to answer questions and concerns,” Lambert said.
“I remain resolute in my belief that by working together and having open discussions, we can meet our challenges and continue to deliver high-quality services.”
PCC budget finance meeting dates and locations:
March 9, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Downtown Campus, Amethyst Room
March 10, 4-5 p.m., Desert Vista Campus, Ocotillo Room
March 24, 3:30-4:30 p.m., 29th Street Coalition Center, Aurora Room
March 25, 3:30-4:30 p.m., West Campus, JG05
April 2, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Northwest Campus, A207
April 6, 3:30- 4:30 p.m., Community Campus, A109/112
April 7, 10-11 a.m., Maintenance & Security Conference Room MS 105