Snyder plans to boost higher ed funding to 2011 levels

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Gov. Rick Snyder is planning to propose an additional $61.2 million of state funding for higher education, restoring it to 2011 levels, according to an official familiar with the plan.

The increase, an additional 4.4 percent to the $1.3 billion in appropriations to higher education, would include a cap on tuition hikes of 4.8 percent to qualify for incentive funding, also an increase from 3.2 percent in 2015.

“It sends a very strong signal from a governor and his administration that college affordability is a priority for the state,” Dan Hurley, executive director of the Michigan Association of State Universities, said Tuesday as he was alerting the presidents of Michigan’s 15 public universities. “State university leaders recognize the state spending pressures, and this recommendation increase does indeed send a signal that higher ed is a priority.”

Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon agreed. Her school would get a 3.9 percent boost, to more than $279 million.

“MSU is encouraged and very appreciative of the governor’s proposal to increase overall funding for higher education by more than 4 percent, especially given other budgetary constraints,” Simon said. “An educated work force is absolutely crucial to the state’s economic recovery.”

But not everyone thinks the proposed increase, set to be unveiled Wednesday morning, goes far enough.

“It’s good news, but it’s frustrating and disappointing to be just getting back to where we started six years ago,” said Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, a member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education. “We are not keeping pace with other states.”

Michigan ranked eighth-worst in the nation for educational appropriations per full-time equivalent enrollment in 2014, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Snyder cut the higher education budget 15 percent in 2011 — a total reduction of $213.1 million, sparking protests when he addressed University of Michigan graduates that year.

The governor has reversed that trend since, incrementally increasing aid.

Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said the university and its students are delighted the governor is investing in higher education.

“However, this is the fifth consecutive year that Wayne State would receive the lowest percentage funding increase of Michigan’s 15 public universities,” Wilson said. WSU would get a 3.5 percent hike under the governor’s spending blueprint, to more than $198 million.

“The current metrics funding model penalizes Wayne State by inappropriately comparing us to other research-intensive universities nationally that do not share Wayne State’s urban mission to serve at-risk students. The continued use of this ill-conceived metrics funding model is systematically disadvantaging the state’s only public, urban research university.”

Meanwhile, other university leaders said they were pleased.

“We have long said that investing in higher education contributes significantly to the state’s economic well-being,” said Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations at the University of Michigan. The Ann Arbor school would get a 4.2 percent hike under Snyder’s budget, to more than $312 million.

Proposed state funding by school

All 15 of Michigan’s state universities would get additional funding under Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2017 budget:

Central Michigan: 5.2 percent increase – $81.1 million for operations, $4.2 million in performance funding

Eastern Michigan: 4.6 percent increase – $71.8 million for operations, $3.3 million in performance funding

Ferris State: 5.6 percent increase – $50.4 million for operations, $2.8 million in performance funding

Grand Valley: 6.8 percent increase – $65.3 million for operations, $4.4 million in performance funding

Lake Superior State: 4.1 percent increase – $13.2 million for operations, $541,000 in performance funding

Michigan State: 3.9 percent increase – $268.8 million for operations, $10.4 million in performance funding

Michigan Technological: 4.3 percent increase – $46.8 million for operations, $2 million in performance funding

Northern Michigan: 3.9 percent increase – $45.1 million for operations, $1.8 million in performance funding

Oakland: 6.1 percent increase – $48.4 million for operations, $2.9 million in performance funding

Saginaw Valley: 5 percent increase – $28.2 million for operations, $1.4 million in performance funding

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: 4.2 percent increase – $300 million for operations, $12.7 million in performance funding

University of Michigan-Dearborn: 4.8 percent increase – $24 million for operations, $1.2 million in performance funding

University of Michigan-Flint: 5.1 percent increase – $21.8 million for operations, $1.1 million in performance funding

Wayne State: 3.5 percent increase – $191.5 million for operations, $6.6 million in performance funding

Western Michigan: 4.2 percent increase – $104.3 million for operations, $4.4 million in performance funding

Source: Michigan State Budget Office