Legislation Could Raise Tuition Fees

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Gila Community College President Barbara Ganz tomorrow will ask the Arizona House of Representatives Appropriations Committee to vote against two house bills that could take away Gila Community College's autonomy while increasing tuition costs.

Ganz calls House Bills 2105 and 2079 threats to GCC because they would repeal provisional community college districts in the state.

If either HB 2105 or HB 2079 is passed, they will take away Gila Community College's provisional status, which was approved by a 67 percent majority vote in 2002.

Ganz has called the legislation "an open insult to the voters of Gila County who overwhelmingly went to the polls to request home rule for local higher education."

Under current state law, Gila Community College must operate as a provisional district, in this case under Pima Community College, because Gila County does not meet population or tax thresholds for a full-fledged district.

If the provisional district is taken away, Gila Community College students will have to pay out-of-county tuition.

Ganz and Gila Community College's board president Ron Christensen both said HB 2079, like HB 2105, is a threat to GCC's future.

The language in HB 2079, a more recent piece of legislation, was changed as late as 4 p.m. Feb. 28. The bill basically restructures education fees and sets up Eastern Arizona College to become a four-year institution.

This morning, Ganz said she was continuing to read through the lengthy legislation to determine exactly what effects the bill would have on GCC, but it "includes different funding formulas for community college districts and offers Gila (College) less than what it has."

HB 2105 was originally scheduled for hearing Feb. 9 and Feb. 23 by the Appropriations Committee. Both of those hearings were postponed for unknown reasons.

HB 2079 is being heard at 1:30 p.m. today by the House Committee of Universities, Community Colleges and Technology and at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow by the appropriations committee in State Capitol room HHR 3.

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