BIG THREE U'S GET MORE UNDER COMPROMISE HIGHER ED BUDGET
Michigan's Big Three universities would receive 2 percent more funding during the 2006-07 fiscal year, matching the fiscal proposal made by Governor Jennifer Granholm, under a compromise higher education budget the Senate unanimously passed Wednesday.
The compromise version of SB 1088 also includes additional funding for four smaller universities to help raise their minimum per student expenditures. Sen. Deborah Cherry (D-Burton), who sponsored the compromise, said it melded the proposal originally made by Ms. Granholm and the version that was reported from the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The budget also includes a requirement that all 15 public four-year universities in Michigan report to the Legislature on how much of their research is put into commercial use. Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R-Wyoming), sponsor of the amendment, said the report would help the state know how much research done by the universities promotes economic development in Michigan.
The budget totals $1.777 billion, $1.617 billion in general funds, which with the compromise proposal is more than $5 million over the version the Appropriations Committee approved.
The budget includes full funding for the tuition grant, the state scholarship that is paid to students of private schools. Ms. Granholm has attempted in each of her budgets to either eliminate the funding or combine it with another program, and legislative Republicans have each time restored it.
In her original proposal, Ms. Granholm had called for a 2 percent increase for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. For the remaining 12 schools, she had proposed a straight 1 percent increase with other funding based on a series of factors including graduations and school population.
In the committee, the budget was changed so that all schools got a 1.8 percent increase except for Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Oakland University and Saginaw Valley State University that were all increased at a higher level to bring them a basic floor level of funding per student.
But the chamber agreed to the compromise that added $5 million to the basic university appropriations. In addition to UM, MSU and WSU getting the additional 2 percent, Central will get 2.2 percent more, Oakland 4 percent more, Saginaw Valley will get 6.1 percent, and Grand Valley will get 7 percent more.
The remaining eight universities will all get an additional 1.8 percent in funding over the current year.
The Senate also adopted a 2 percent increase to the Agricultural Experiment Station at MSU