Budget passage brings research bill to forefront

June 18, 2003

By hammersmith

With the budget impasse behind them, state lawmakers are expected to act on the $440-million plan to construct research facilities at the state universities before adjourning one of the Legislature’s longest-ever sessions.

The university research bill is among the so-called “big three” projects remaining on the legislative agenda, along with bills to expand Phoenix Civic Plaza and to provide financial assistance for the Maricopa County health system.

The research legislation would authorize immediate construction of at least a dozen buildings at Arizona State University’s main, east, and west campuses; the University of Arizona, including a Phoenix-based medical-research building of the Arizona Health Sciences Center; and Northern Arizona University, including a science building at the university’s Yuma campus.

Since swiftly passing the House on May 7, HB2529 has stalled in the Senate, caught in a web of political maneuvering over the state budget. Most recently, conservative Republicans attempted to quash or revamp the legislation last week, but their efforts were overcome by a coalition of moderate Republicans who vowed to keep it intact–plus a threatened budget veto by Governor Janet Napolitano, according to the Arizona Republic.

The universities subsequently agreed to an amendment to devote a greater percentage of their expected revenue to offset construction finance costs. The original bill called for 30 percent of the profits generated from patents, royalties and equity shares to flow back to the state. Under the compromise, the amount would increase up to $17 million per year.

The legislation calls for the state to annually allocate about $14.5 million to ASU, $14.2 million to UA, and about $6 million to NAU from fiscal 2007 through 2030.

Proponents of the measure say it would boost the state’s economy by attracting federal grants, generating new jobs, and further developing the state’s growing biosciences economy. Opponents argue that it is too costly and risky, especially during a time of large state budget deficits.

More information:

‘Big 3’s Bills Stand In The Way Of Adjournment,” Arizona Capitol Times, 6/18/03

Golden Boy vs. J-Nap: Guv takes Crow to the mat,” Arizona Republic, 6/15/03 

Will they never learn?Arizona Daily Star, 6/15/03 

Plan would reshape research payoff,” Arizona Daily Star, 6/12/03 

House adjourns without budget,” Arizona Republic, 6/11/03

Research proposal needs Republican backing,” East Valley Tribune, 5/21/03

Cutting Edge” it’s prime time to commit state funds for university research work,” editorial, Arizona Republic, 5/15/03

HB2529, Arizona State Legislature