SENATE PANEL ADDS $29M TO HIGHER-ED BUDGET
All public universities would receive more money in the 2006-07 fiscal year under a budget bill the Senate Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee approved on a 3-2 vote, but the proposal varies sharply from that of Governor Jennifer Granholm by giving 11 of the schools a 1.8 percent increase and even higher boosts four other campuses to bring per student funding up to a minimum level.
The revised budget, in SB 1088, also restores $58 million in tuition grants. Ms. Granholm had combined the grants with the competitive scholarships. By restoring the tuition grants and competitive scholarships at the level funded this year, the budget is $29.3 million more in general funds than Ms. Granholm's proposal.
Ms. Granholm had proposed a 2 percent increase to the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, with 1 percent increases to the other 12 universities and additional increases based on a formula.
By increasing all the state universities, the subcommittee immediately evades the fight that exploded a year ago when it called for cuts in the allocations to Wayne State University and Northern Michigan University.
But four schools - Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University, Oakland University and Saginaw Valley State University - would get more funding because Subcommittee Chair Sen. Mike Goschka (R-Brant) said it is important to continue working towards basic floor funding for the universities.
Setting a basic floor funding of $3,750 per student meant adding $3.159 million to Grand Valley, $1.19 million to Oakland, $1.18 million to Saginaw Valley and $304,400 for Central. Even at that, Mr. Goschka said Grand Valley will still be below the $3,750 per student target.
Senate Appropriations Chair Sen. Shirley Johnson (R-Troy) said the proposal is similar to the 1994 Proposal A school funding changes in its effort to bring lower schools up to the higher paying schools.
But Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton) said the bill follows arguments the committee has had in the past. "I still feel there are some really big differences between a few of the universities (the research schools) and the rest of the universities," she said.
The budget totals $1.774.1 billion, up 2.3 percent from the current year, with $1.614.3 billion of that in general funds.