FACT CHECK: Ad attacks Fred DuVal raising tuition, but is Republican legislature really to blame?

It is official. The fight for the governor's office is in full swing. Republican candidate Doug Ducey is facing off against Democrat Fred DuVal.

Soon after the primary polls closed, the first attack ad hit the airwaves. Ducey’s supporters are behind this one, and it targets opponent Fred DuVal.

The main subject of the ad is DuVal’s service on the Arizona Board of Regents. The board sets tuition and fees for our state's three universities.

“It keeps parents awake at night, worrying about the high cost of college tuition,” the ad starts.

College tuition is certainly high. In fact, it's double what it was before the recession.

But, at the same time, the majority Republican Arizona legislature cut per-student funding for public higher education in half. They were the deepest cuts in the country.

 The ad accuses DuVal of voting to raise tuition while on the board, which is true. But it's debatable that the cost of college went up only because of the Board of Regents -- or because of Fred DuVal's role on it.

“Under DuVal, tuition and fees rose 99 percent, doubling the price of college,” the ad says.

It's true that every year DuVal was on the board, he voted for tuition increases. But, he told ABC15 it was either that or closing the universities all together.

“Fred increased financial aid to keep the doors of our universities open so more low and middle-income students could go to college,” his campaign said in a statement.

See the DuVal campaign’s full statement below.

According to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, when you cut state funding by that much, universities have to cut services or raise tuition to cover the gap.

In Arizona, leaders had to do both.

It's also worth noting when DuVal became president of the board, he advocated for no tuition increase and ASU and U of A froze tuition that year.

The ad continues, “Lobbyist Fred DuVal made middle class families pay more.”

As soon as the ad came out, a former colleague and Republican defended DuVal. Anne Mariucci released a statement calling the ad "highly inaccurate" and said the tuition increases were “forced” by the legislature's deep cuts.

"Fred and I personally developed the formula requiring the universities to reduce costs before raising tuition, and Fred was always the loudest voice in the room to protect students from unnecessary tuition hikes,” Mariucci said. “To cast him in any other light is just wrong.”

See the full statement from Anne Mariucci below.

“C'mon Fred. That's just not fair,” the ad ends.

This ad was paid for by the Republican Governors Association. Their PAC in Arizona is called RGA Arizona.

This isn’t dark money. You can see every donor who gave the more than $1 Million in their war chest on the Secretary of State's website.

One thing to notice: None of those donors are from Arizona.

See the full ad here.

Q&A with the DuVal campaign –

Question: In the ad, the RGA accuses Mr. DuVal of doubling the price of college tuition in Arizona while serving on the Board of Regents. The numbers show tuition did nearly double in the time Mr. DuVal was on the board. Why did Mr. DuVal vote for tuition increases while on the board of regents?

Answer:  This claim is misleading and wrong. Governor Brewer and the state Legislature cut more than $400 million from our universities, forcing the universities to choose: either raise tuition, or close campuses and shut the doors of college on students trying to prepare for their futures. Fred increased financial aid to keep the doors of our universities open so more low and middle-income students could go to college. And today, more students in need are working toward their degrees in Arizona than ever before.

Question: How did these votes affect middle class families?

Answer: Governor Brewer and the state Legislature’s education cuts have decimated K-12 and higher education, and hurt middle class families. And Doug Ducey has supported these cuts every step of the way. Doug Ducey has said he “wouldn’t comply” with a court order requiring us to restore funding to our children’s schools; Ducey called for more cuts to our universities, and even suggested privatizing them. Not to mention his radical income tax plan, which would blow a $3.5+ billion hole in our state’s budget. Doug Ducey would be a disaster for middle class families in Arizona.

Question: In the ad, the RGA refers to Mr. DuVal of being a lobbyist. What is your response to this label?

Answer:  Fred worked in the private sector on job creation and economic development all over Arizona. He also lobbied on behalf of Arizona's public universities -- and didn't get paid for it. One job Fred did as a lobbyist was for Tucson. Fred's first job as a teenager was selling Coca-Cola at spring training baseball games in Tucson. Decades later, when baseball teams were looking to leave Tucson, Fred worked for his hometown to try and keep baseball in Tucson.

Complete statement from Anne Mariucci –

“I'm a Republican and I need to correct the record about this highly inaccurate political attack on Fred DuVal. I worked by Fred's side to save our public universities when the Arizona legislature decimated higher education during the Great Recession. They cut our public universities deeper than any state in the country, forcing tuition increases on Arizona students.

“Fred DuVal actually kept the doors of education open to students from working and middle class families by increasing financial aid for students, developing more partnerships between community colleges and universities, and developing new campuses in rural Arizona.”

"Fred and I personally developed the formula requiring the universities to reduce costs before raising tuition, and Fred was always the loudest voice in the room to protect students from unnecessary tuition hikes. To cast him in any other light is just wrong.”

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