Gov. Doug Ducey

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

PHOENIX — Arizona's three universities are in compliance with constitutional requirements to keep instruction "as nearly free as possible,'' Gov. Doug Ducey said today.

The governor said lawmakers had to make some difficult decisions in prior years, making sharp cuts in funding for higher education as well as other priorities. It is only recently that the state has started to restore some of those cuts.

What that means, he said, is that the Board of Regents is doing the best it can to keep tuition not only affordable but, as he sees it, within the constitutional requirements.

The governor's stance places him at odds with Attorney General Mark Brnovich who filed suit against the regents a week ago accusing them of ignoring what the constitution requires. Brnovich contends that the board has to set tuition based on the actual cost of instruction and that the cuts made in state funding are irrelevant.

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Ducey also took a slap of sorts at Brnovich for filing suit. He said these kinds of issues should not be decided with lawsuits.