SENATE APPROPRIATIONS SENDS BUDGETS TO FULL CHAMBER
In an afternoon's work the Senate Appropriations Committee reported bills totaling more than $25 billion in proposed state spending Wednesday, grinding through budgets for K-12 School Aid, the Departments of Community Health, Corrections, Environmental Quality, higher education and community colleges.
There were disputes on the funding formula used for the state's public universities, and efforts to add more money for a variety of school programs in the K-12 School Aid budget largely failed. Still, most the budgets were approved with little dissent.
Even the now closed Michigan Youth Correctional Facility came to life with an amendment adopted requiring the state to use it first if it has to open or expand any prison facilities.
And while the committee approved the spending, largely without controversy, it also worried about the potential impact of the K-16 school spending proposal. Each budget had added to it a requirement that the state outline potential cuts to programs if the proposal becomes law.
The volume of work took nearly five hours to complete, with the meeting going so long committee members worried about missing meetings back in their home districts and fundraisers.
HIGHER EDUCATION: Efforts to change the subcommittee's proposal and restore the budget back largely to Ms. Granholm's proposal failed in SB 1088. The budget totals $1.774 billion, 2.3 percent larger than the current year's appropriation and $32.3 million more than Ms. Granholm's proposal.
The committee version rejected Ms. Granholm's proposal, which called for 2 percent increases for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. Ms. Granholm also called 1 percent across the board increases for the remaining 12 schools along with additional funds tied to a formula.
Instead, the committee's version continues an effort to restore basic floor funding to all the four-year universities. That means that while most schools, including the big three research schools, would be allocated increases of 1.8 percent over the current year, four schools would be allocated more.
Those four are Central Michigan University, allocated 2.2 percent more; Oakland University, allocated 4.2 percent more; Saginaw Valley State University, allocated 6.1 percent more; and Grand Valley State University, allocated 7 percent more. Even at that, Grand Valley still would not have funding of $3,750 per student (coming in at $3,371 a student).
A major difference in the committee version from the executive version of the budget is that the committee restored funding for the tuition grant program. Instead of attempting to excise the program directly, Ms. Granholm attempted to combine the program with the competitive scholarships. But Republicans said when the budget was first proposed that the programs would be restored.
In an effort to win approval of Ms. Granholm's proposal, Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton) offered a substitute that put in the governor's funding proposals for each of the 15 universities, but included full funding for the tuition grant program.
"This is has full funding for the MTG," said subcommittee chair, Sen. Mike Goschka (R-Brant). "Where does that come from?"
"It comes from the same place you have it coming from," Ms. Cherry responded.
"Really. I've always wondered, where is that?" Mr. Goschka said.