As Arizona cuts funding for public colleges in an effort to close a huge budget gap, the former CEO of Intel warns this policy could have disastrous economic implications. What the hell do you think you’re doing, Arizona?

Republican Governor Jan Brewer (right) proposes cutting state money for higher education by 25 percent as part of an effort to find $1 billion to close a projected budget gap for fiscal year 2012.

According to an article by Ginger Rough and Betty Beard in The Arizona Republic:

Gov. Jan Brewer and the state’s top lawmakers got a reality check Tuesday from former Intel Chief Executive and Board Chairman Craig Barrett, who told them Arizona’s education system is hindering economic-development efforts. “Quality education is extremely important to a place like Intel ,” Barrett said. “(The) education cutbacks don’t bode well for that.”

Barrett said if Intel were starting anew, Arizona likely wouldn’t be in the running for its business. “I hate to say it, but I think Arizona would not be in the top 10 locales to make that investment,” he said.

Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor chip maker, is one of the important companies in Arizona. In the last decade the company has put some $14 billion in new Arizona plants. This investment was driven in part by the high skills and relative education of the Arizona workforce.

Brewer protested, saying she would do everything “in her power” to improve education in her state. “I think I have staked my career . . . my governorship on education,” she said at the board meeting of the Arizona Commerce Authority. Her budget calls for a $170 million cut to state colleges. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer