Straight From the Insatiable Statist Playbook

University of Arizona President Robert Shelton absolutely berates the state legislature as a bunch of Neanderthals for slashing his budget:

During this period, we have seen our state appropriation cut by nearly one-quarter, going from approximately $440 million to $340 million. The impact of these cuts has been amplified because they have come at a time when we have been asked to grow our enrollment substantially, and indeed we have done just that, setting records for enrollment in each of the past four years.

So the sound bite for this year is that we are being asked by the state to do much, much more, while being given much, much less....

The sad thing, though, with some of these legislators is that they have no idea how much they risk our state's future (and the quality of life for people who live here) when they try to lay waste to the single greatest engine of economic mobility that has ever been created. Because that's what public higher education in this country is.

Here he gets over the top -- look at the words he uses for the state legislature

When malevolent people talk about wanting to dismantle and destroy great universities, all they achieve is dire consequences for the human condition.

I am sure for the children shows up in there somewhere.  But is he right.  Well, technically, the legislature did cut his general fund appropriation.  But then they gave it back to him, and more, in different budget categories.  As it turns out, Shelton is being unbelievably disingenuous about this, and only the fact that most of his students went to public high schools and therefore can't do math lets him get away with such an address.  Greg Patterson tracks down the facts:

I contacted the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and asked for UA's total funding.Here's the response:

Mr. Patterson

UA's originally enacted FY 2008 General Fund appropriation was $362.4 million, and their current year (FY 2011) General Fund appropriation is $271.3 million, which is a decrease of $(91.1) million.

UA was appropriated $117.7 million in Other Appropriated Funds in FY 2008 and $219.3 million in the current year, which is an increase of $101.6 million.

UA's Non-Appropriated and Federal Funds budget was $786.7 million in FY 2008 and $911.3 million in FY 2011, which is an increase of $124.6 million.

In total, UA's FY 2008 budget was $1,266.8 million and their FY 2011 budget was $1,401.9 million, which is a total increase of $135.1 million.

So the University of Arizona's total budget has increased by $135.1 million--over 10%--during the period in which the "malevolent" state leaders have been "slashing" the funding.

Unbelievable.  I am so sick of statists crying budget cut when in fact their budgets are increasing.  Mr. Shelton goes on for thousands of words of drivel about the poor state of public discourse in Arizona while simultaneously dropping this turd in the punch bowl.  How is public discourse supposed to improve when the president of one of our two state universities is spewing out what he must know are outright fabrications and misrepresentations.  Pathetic.


  1. Greg:

    Why do the words "Never enough" come to mind?

  2. DMac:

    At $1.4 billion, that's $35K for each of the 40,000 or so students in Tucson. Add to that the tuition, Athletic department receipts, Alumni donations, etc, and the university is a cash cow. The University system nationwide has become an industry whose main constituents are the faculty and staff, not the students. Their (UofA) website notes that there are over 14,000 faculty and staff, with a total payroll of over $750mm, or one for every three students. Explain that to the kid sitting in a lecture hall with 300 of his closest friends. Education, at all levels, has become yet another government jobs program.

  3. DrTorch:

    ASU 30- ua 29 !!!!

  4. Jamie:

    The "other appropriated funds" is tuition which UA collects, gives to the state, and then the state gives back to UA. It's the same system in Virginia and is kind of dumb, since the state charges an admin fee for the bureaucracy that administers the tuition.

  5. Jim Collins:

    I'm willing to bet that the "increase in other accounts" funds have requirements on how they are spent. So over all the "President's" discressionary funds were cut, which will probably make them cut back on some of their pet projects. You know, the Salute to Che display, the America Sucks seminar and the Illegal Aliens only cafeteria.

  6. DrTorch:

    Jim Collins,

    I assume you weren't being facetious:

  7. Mesa Econoguy:

    Remember, this is the same university president who keeps Mr. Hughes of MBH 98 fame on staff, and hidden from accountability.

    Mr. Shelton needs to learn some ethics and manners, preferably in a legal setting (see next post).

  8. Jim Collins:

    I made up the names of the events, but I'm being dead serious about the concept.

  9. spiro:

    As a former university researcher and faculty member I'll let you in on ANOTHER source fo income for universities: research grants. When I was doing research (at the U of A, in fact) 51% of every NIH grant we received went to the university's general fund. Every research grant. That's many MILLIONS of dollars every year at a major research university like U of A. I'd like to see a breakdown of where this money goes, especially in light of the fact that most state universities increase their tuition by nearly 10% EVERY year. Somebody(s) is/are making a ton of money doing very little. It's a state-funded cartel.

  10. caseyboy:

    Is President Shelton a graduate of AU? I wonder what public school system he came through? Math doesn't seen to be a strength, or perhaps his math is good, but he lacks ethics. Was he ever a politician?

  11. Danimal:

    If he actually attended U of A himself, then it wouldn't surprise me if he's not that good at math. Then again, I attended ASU...

  12. Aaron:

    "Greatest engine of economic mobility ever created" -- LOL. I am fortunate not to have any student debt, but I've had enough coworkers stuck making payments of $500 a month or greater on entry level salaries to know this is hooey. The 20+% unemployment rate among recent grads also bespeaks the great value on which employers put BAs from institutions like U of A these days.

    Somehow, I suspect if less of the population wasted years of their lives on "higher education" that will in fact prove useless to their future careers we'd see a significant jump in productivity in the US, both because people would be entering productive professions faster and because their purchasing power wouldn't be burdened by student debt.

  13. DC:

    @ Spiro: 100% correct, sir...I can confirm this is so. You can write research grant proposals, but you'd better plan on inflating the $ amount requested, to cover that 50% overhead fee. Money better spent on equipment, materials, and grad student stipends, IMHO! Yes, the university takes in a LOT of money from this scam.

  14. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    First Tale:
    Back in 1982 I was working for a small University of Florida program. It was mainly me as the software guy, and a professor. We wrote or obtained copies of software for the use of agricultural people, and one of my key tasks was to port the software written for one popular machine onto a couple other common machines -- We largely supported the Apple ][, the TRS-80, and the (then relatively new) IBM-PC. Well, back then, we had, mostly, dot-matrix printers. The solution, if you wanted letter-quality print was a Starwriter, an expensive daisy-wheel printer, costing about $2000 in early-80s dollars (call it $4500 today). However, there was a brand-new, inexpensive (at $600, it was a steal!) type of daisy wheel printer. We got one, among other things because my boss, the professor, wanted to look as professional as possible when making grant applications and so forth. It was a nice printer, but slow, and, since letter-quality wasn't needed for most of the software apps, it was used sparingly.

    I recall, however, one day in very late June, when my boss came in with office supplies. In addition to lots and lots of other things, he had not less than 10 ribbons for this rarely-used daisy-wheel printer. In the six months we'd had it, I doubt if we'd even used up one of the ribbons.

    So, why, suddenly, did we have 10 ribbons for the device? Anyone with experience with University budgeting knows exactly why... There was money left over at the end of the year (Fiscal years ran July-June), and, any moneys not spent by July 1 were not only lost, they were generally removed from the budget for the next year automatically.

    You had to justify why you needed the same amount "this" year when you didn't spend all of what you got "last" year. So, rather than have to do something like that, you spent all your money, regardless of if it was on anything you actually needed or wanted... I cannot say for sure but I'd lay HUGE odds that at least 9 of those 10 ribbons wound up in a trash bin, useless from either age or from the printer in question being disposed of as laser printers became the norm for LQ printing.

    Second Tale:
    In 1990, I was hired for another UF department. Among my first tasks was to select and purchase a computer for my own use as a developer. I was given a budget, and so I set out to buy a computer. You were strongly encouraged to buy from a University contract source -- in general, Radio Shack or IBM itself. For the money in question, I could buy an IBM-compatible 386-20, with 2mb of RAM, and VGA(640x480) graphics, from Radio Shack. Or I could get the same, with a 386-16 from IBM for notably more. Well, needless to say, I was rather familiar with the available equipment and the pricing of the times... Those machines were CRAP values. I wound up going off-contract, and getting a 386-25 with 4mb of RAM and not just EVGA (800x600) graphics, but XVGA(1024x768) graphics. -- two full levels better than the IBM machine. In order to do this, though, I had to write up a full justification on why it was a better purchase than the lousy university contracts. The obvious question from this is -- how many people were contentious enough to actually make sure that they got the University the best deal for the money...?

    Third Tale:
    Back in 1984ish, the IBM-PC's impact on the market was quite evident, and its conquest of the business market was all but complete. The State of Florida's Ag Dept. decided to obtain and put into place a PC of some sort for each and every one of its County Agents (about 64-odd machines, as I recall). You know County Agents -- the Hank Kimballs from Green Acres for the State of Florida? Well, a committee was set up with the intention that they select the best machines available for the price. My boss (that professor I mentioned earlier) was one of the members of that committee. A computer was selected, and purchases made -- for about $6000 each (about $12,000 in current dollars) vs. about $4000 for an actual IBM-brand PC-AT -- purchased was an "interesting" DEC brand PC-clone that "also" could emulate a DEC PDP-11, and even run a variant of the VAX operating system, as well as MS-DOS. It did -neither- very well, however. In fact, it was a very unreliable PC-clone, and could only run about 60% of the available IBM software. In short, it pretty much sucked as a purchase, and, like those aforementioned Daisy-Wheel ribbons, wound up sitting on peoples' desks unused until someone wanted the desk space back and tossed it in a closet somewhere. Now, the REAL interesting part of this tale isn't even what I've mentioned so far -- the interesting part is that the committee, which my boss was a member of -- never ACTUALLY MET or MADE ANY DECISION. There WAS this one guy also on the committee, though, who worked for UF at the time, and was the head of IFAS computing. HE was a major -- and I do mean MAJOR -- DEC fan. Coincidence? Is that a trout in your milk bucket?

    Final Tale:
    I recall seeing a report on TV, many many years ago, about "computer education in the classroom". The centerpiece of the story was a then-recent purchase by the California State School system of a "PC for every student". Sounds good, right? Well, excepting if you knew ANYTHING about the computer business. I took one look at those machines, and immediately recognized them for what they were. French Minitel machines. France had attempted to expand its "popular" Minitel hegemony from France into other nations. The minitel was a pre-WWW sort of communication system. It was woefully underpowered compared to an IBM-PC clone with a modem, and a closed system that would never have been able to compete with a PC clone for software. In short, when introduced into an actual market condition, it flopped and flopped BADLY. The French were left with -millions- of them that they couldn't sell. Oh, wait, yes they could. To the Cali State School System.

    Thus endeth the tale of How I Became A Stanch Proponent of Libertarianism and Smaller Government. Yes, as a bleeding-edge Gen-Xer I already leaned that way, but the above all show how those leanings went from leanings to being set in concrete.

  15. Henry Bowman:

    It's really hard for me to take complaints such as those made by UofA President Shelton seriously when, on average, the number of administrators exceeds the number of faculty. There simply have to be ways to save lots of money by reducing university overhead, but folks such as Shelton don't see that as their job. They see their job as simply raising revenue.

  16. gideon:

    I worked in university admin for many years. When the government slashes funds to the general appropriations, that reduces money for things like building maintenance and janitorial staff. The place can be awash in appropriated funds but that money has to go to pet policy areas that the government stipulates, like creating new faculty spaces for cancer research. So you can get more and more high-class faculty doing research you could brag about except that you can't give them staff, you can't keep the roofs from leaking on their lab bench tops, and they have to clean their own offices while the hallways are filthy and the bathrooms are never cleaned. So your expensive faculty leave and go someplace else. Governments can't impress voters by braggings about supporting university janitors.