Legislation to construct $440 million in new research facilities at Arizona’s universities has been delayed in the Senate, caught up in political maneuvering surrounding the passing of the state budget.
The East Valley Tribune reported today that Senate President Ken Bennett has been delaying action on HB2529 since it passed the House on May 7. Bennett is withholding the bill to prevent it from being tied to the Republic-led budget proposal, which needs only one more vote to be forwarded to the governor. Republican senators Slade Mead and Linda Binder have refused to support the budget plan because of inaction on the research bill and two others.
The legislation will 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.
The universities would borrow money to finance construction for the first four years, at which time legislative appropriations would pay for the buildings and debt service for the next 25 years. In return, the universities would pay the state 30 percent of income derived from the research beginning in 2013.
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.
“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