Arizona State University President Michael Crow said last week that Arizona is the worst when it comes to investing in higher education. We decided to give his statement a PolitiFact truth test.
Crow made these remarks as he lobbied for more state dollars in front of a Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee on January 26.
“We need to think seriously what it is about us that has put us in a position where we are now investing, not just a little bit less than other places, (but) markedly less on a per capita basis than every single state in this country in higher education,” Crow said.
Crow’s remarks come from a January 25 study out of Illinois State University.
In the study, which ranks all 50 states, Arizona is ranked 49th per capita in state higher education funding for fiscal year 2016, second to New Hampshire.
Arizona spent $136.72 per resident on higher education in fiscal year 2015, and is expected to spend $115.83 per resident in the current fiscal year.
However, Arizona is not the worst when it comes to higher education funding per resident - New Hampshire is. Crow did preface his comments by saying, he was only comparing Arizona with conservative states which have conservative legislatures.
Still, the survey shows that Arizona has the biggest year to year drop in state higher education funding at 14 percent.
In March, Grand Canyon State also cut $99 million in funding to universities, which pales in comparison to the $8 million in new funding Gov. Doug Ducey has pitched for the state’s fiscal year 2017 budget.
“Our data is pretty straightforward,” Grapevine editor Jim Palmer said, noting that the survey uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce. “Arizona did experience the biggest decrease in funding from ‘15 to ‘16.”
Arizona also had the steepest decline, 47 percent, in state higher education spending per student from 2008 to 2015.
But the state isn’t alone, either.
A December 2014 Government Accountability Office report found that “state funding for all public colleges decreased” between fiscal years 2003 and 2012.
Eileen Klein, president of the Arizona Board of Regents, said the additional $8 million in state higher education funding is an encouraging first start.
However, the objective isn’t to “catapult” through the rankings. “The point is to make sure that we have sufficient dollars to support Arizona students,” Klein said.
Crow said, “We are now investing, not just a little bit less than other places, (but) markedly less on a per capita basis than every single state in this country in higher education.”
Arizona is not the worst, we are 49th, for the current fiscal year in funding higher education. Crow said he made his comparison among conservative states, but New Hampshire, the worst for higher education funding based on the study he cited, appears to be in the middle of the political spectrum.
Given the context, we rate Crow’s claim as Mostly True
For the complete fact-check, visit our news partner, PolitiFact Arizona.