[Source: Aaron Mackey, Arizona Daily Star] — A lawmaker-approved plan to spend $1 billion on building projects at the state’s three universities and stimulate the construction industry is likely dead after a legislative committee set to review the package canceled its meeting. The cancellation of the Friday meeting means the projects — which included $470 million to expand the University of Arizona’s medical school in downtown Phoenix — probably won’t be reviewed until the Legislature convenes next year, dimming the prospects of the package ever being implemented.
Given the state’s growing deficit, lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Capital Review have been blocking the bond-funded projects, saying that the spending needs to be trimmed or cut entirely as they look for ways to make up for a shortfall that could reach $2 billion. The decision by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, to stall the projects — originally passed by lawmakers during the summer — has met with criticism from Gov. Janet Napolitano and leaders of the state’s three universities, who say Pearce is ignoring the will of the full Legislature. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]