U. of Arizona’s Budget Woes Raise Fears of Layoffs, and Questions About Economic Divide

Like thousands of people in southern Arizona, Josh Ramos’s fate is intertwined with the University of Arizona. His mother’s job as a university accountant supports the family, and Mr. Ramos’s education, by qualifying him for a discount that cuts his tuition by 75 percent.

“This job has brought us a lot of stability,” said Mr. Ramos, 18, a college freshman.

But the University of Arizona stunned the state late last year by revealing a $177 million shortfall in its more than $2 billion annual budget. Now, as the 40,000-student campus braces for layoffs, Mr. Ramos is worried. About his mother’s job. About having to drop out. About his family’s future.

And the whole state is worried that southern Arizona will suffer if the region’s largest, most dependable employer loses credibility and trust.

The turmoil has shaken the heavily Democratic city of Tucson, where many residents and university employees blame mismanagement at the top.

They say university leaders bumbled into catastrophe by spending millions of dollars on top-end salaries, athletics, risky expansion efforts and tuition subsidies for out-of-state students. Now they worry that middle-class workers and Arizona students will be hit hardest by efforts to cut budgets.

“This job has brought us a lot of stability,” said Josh Ramos about his mother at the university, which qualifies him for a hefty discount on tuition.Credit…Caitlin O’Hara for The New York Times
Back to top button