Michigan GOP proposes 0.9% funding boost for colleges and universities

Most universities and community colleges wouldn’t get enough of a funding hike to cover inflation under the latest budget plan in the Michigan Legislature. Under the proposed budget, Wayne State University (above) would still receive less funding than in 2011, even without adjusting for inflation. 

Update: Dems break with Whitmer, pass small funding increase for Michigan schools

LANSING –  Michigan’s public universities would get less than a 1 percent increase in funding, and community colleges only slightly more, under a conference committee budget approved Thursday.

That budget would have to be approved by the full House and Senate and signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to take effect. Negotiations between GOP legislative leaders and the Democratic governor could alter the higher education budget before Oct. 1, the deadline for the 2019-20 budget to be approved to avoid a government shutdown.

The state’s public universities would get a 0.9 percent increase in funding on average. Michigan State University would see a 0.9 percent increase, University of Michigan, 0.6 percent, and Wayne State, 0.5 percent.

Under the proposed budget, Wayne State would still receive less funding than in 2011, even without adjusting for inflation, said Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor.

Whitmer had recommended a 3 percent increase for public universities, a figure that “would barely let us tread water,” Irwin said. The conference committee’s 0.9 percent increase “leaves them further behind than last year.”

The funding proposal comes after talks broke down between Whitmer and Republicans over her plans to raise gas taxes by 45 cents per gallon to pay for more than $2 billion in roads repairs.

“The governor's budget relied on funds from her proposed gas tax to increase funding for higher education,” said Amber McCann, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake.

“The Senate and House agreed to a 1 percent increase for higher education. Legislative leaders used available budget dollars to increase spending where possible.”

Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, said that “it’s hypocritical for leaders of the House and Senate to talk about how they value education” and pass a 0.9 percent increase for public universities.

“Everyone talks about the fact we need an educated workforce,” Anthony said. “That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by people in this building having the courage to invest in higher education.”

Sen Kim LaSata, R-St. Joseph, voted for the higher education budget but expressed similar frustration as her Democratic colleagues with a funding hike that doesn’t even keep up with inflation. 

“It’s not adequate,” LaSata said.

As state support for public universities has declined, tuition has risen, LaSata said. 

“It shouldn’t be a political issue (to fund higher education). I’m not on the leadership team, but I always feel like higher ed is at the bottom (of priorities). Whatever money we have left over, we’ll give to higher ed. We can’t keep going this way.”

Michigan is 31st in the nation in the share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and ranks 44th in per-student state support for higher education.

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Rodd Roesch
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 5:57am

So, how does this work?
I see the different public universities are receiving different sized increases.
Did Wayne state receive less $ because voters vote for Dems?
What about Grand Valley State University? Were Republicans trying to get them more money because voters in that area lean Republican?

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 8:51am

There is a lot of behind the scenes lobbying and arm twisting involved with how much money a university gets from the legislature, I'm sure there are favoritism games involved with all of this but it is kept behind closed doors.

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 11:26am

Yup. Republicans only think of those citizens who vote their way, the rest of the people aren't 'constituents' or 'Michigan citizens' don't matter and don't count.

You know, like ignoring, blocking and doing everything possible with ballot questions that they don't like (like stopping the Republican gerrymandering).

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 10:56am

Weird I remember being called an out stater because all funds went to Detroit Flint area first and what was left over came to the out staters. The Headley amendment changed all that. We have two school districts next to each other. One affluent and one failing. Top school spends a 1.00 to the failing schools 1.60. Your liberal idea is too throw more money at failing school. Those that do better should get more as a reward. Probably why less is going to Wayne st.

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 8:03am

How about breaking with the past where we shovel money at the U's directly s and design a program to direct the money to the students? The U's have no incentive to care what the tax payers get for this investment.

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 9:01am

I would agree with Matt. Instead of taxpayers funding the NFL and NBA thru these universities and their sports programs, fund the students . The $ that is spent on sports and their complex’s would easily assist in funding more educational scholarships rather than sports scholarships. Make the NFL and NBA come up with their own minor league development teams on their own dime.
Additionally, hold the professors accountable for actually teaching the classes they are paid to teach. No more paid sabbaticals, interns etc.

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 10:56am

Why are some school receiving a larger increase than others? There must be some reason.
Is it based on enrollment, tuition costs for students, number of students living below the poverty line, elected official’s alma mater, the way school alumni vote, the way people near the school vote or lobbying by schools.
There has to be a reason.

Mike In TC
Fri, 09/13/2019 - 1:39pm

Ah, an increase in higher ed spending just isn't enough! Maybe the legislature is reflecting constituent dissatisfaction with how the appropriations are currently spent: Administrative staff increasing at a faster pace than teaching staff; millions for silly diversity programs and administrators who can't get legitimate jobs in legitimate fields.

Sat, 09/14/2019 - 8:56am

I am just thrilled that my taxes are being used to pay the legal fees and the golden parachutes of the former MSU president and the provost who just quit that job to fall back into a “regular” faculty position at a salary of only $40,000 per month for her to take sabbatical for 6 months and do research for 6 months. Please. All these administrators should have gone straight to jail and forfeit all future salaries and pensions. I know a few million is a small drop in the bucket but their mishandling and lying about the whole affair has cost we the taxpayers about a Billion dollars.