The budget bill negotiated between Governor Ducey and Legislative leaders leaves intact the Governor's original proposal to zero out funding for the Arizona Geological Survey as of June 30, and transfer the agency duties to the University of Arizona.
AZGS stakeholders, mostly in the private sector, have raised concerns about possibly losing AZGS services and products. In recent weeks, alternative proposals were floated including leaving us in state government, assigning the proposal to a legislative study committee for the next year, or transferring AZGS to the State Mine Inspector's office. The latter was proposed by State Rep. Mark Finchem (R-Tucson).
The University had raised concerns about diverting education funds to support the Survey's state service mission because in the original budget proposal from January, UA was slated for a total budget increase of $2 million (out of a total of $8 million for all three universities). The AZGS state appropriation is $941,000 and we bring in another $800,00 - $1,000,000 annually in overhead in grant funds that are directed at our state mission. (We also bring in many millions more in grants that are not necessarily tied to state statutory responsibilities.) Thus, the total cost to maintain the current level of AZGS services is about $2 million per year.
The one difference now, is that the universities are reportedly set to receive an increase of $33 million. We have not seen how much of that is targeted to UA, but the assumption is they will get substantially more than the original $2 million and thus will be able to absorb the costs of maintaining the Survey with the new funds.
The budget plan is not formally released and legislators still have to approve it.
update, 4-27-16, 09:51 - Senate Budget Plan posted online at http://www.azleg.gov/jlbc/senateplanasintroduced042616.pdf
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