Governor proposes 3 percent funding increase for all public universities


In the first state budget proposal of her term, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday recommended an across-the-board increase of 3 percent in higher education funding for each Michigan public university.

Whitmer’s recommended budget includes more than $1.7 billion in funding for higher education for the 2019-20 fiscal year, including a $45.6 million increase in university operations funding.

The budget recommendations for the three U-M campuses are:

• Ann Arbor, $330.4 million.

• Dearborn, $26.9 million.

• Flint, $24.3 million.

Whitmer said the increased funding supports the goal she announced earlier this year to increase the number of Michigan adults who have a post-secondary degree or certificate from 44 percent today to 60 percent by 2030.

“If we want anyone to invest in Michigan, we have to invest in ourselves,” Whitmer said Tuesday. “I know that Michigan will never truly be a successful state unless we are a state of successful people.”

Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations, said she was pleased with the proposed funding increase and agreed with the governor that meaningful investment in public higher education is critical to the state’s long-term success.

“Increased funding for our institutions of higher ed helps to ensure that we continue to educate the next generation of Michigan leaders and innovators,” Wilbanks said. “We look forward to sharing our perspective with members of the state Legislature throughout the upcoming budget process.”

To receive the additional funding under the recommendation, universities will be expected to limit tuition increases to 3.2 percent, or one percent higher than the expected level of inflation.

The proposal drops a provision from prior years that made half of the funding increase contingent upon meeting certain performance metrics including weighted undergraduate completions in critical skills areas, research expenditures and six-year graduation rates.

The budget proposal also includes a 3 percent funding increase, or about $1.9 million more, for Michigan State University AgBioResearch and Extension.

More than $500 million from the School Aid Fund is replaced with money from the General Fund in this budget plan. The move would eliminate School Aid Fund dollars being used to support public universities — a controversial practice used over the last decade — and return those funds to K-12 education purposes.

Whitmer’s budget presentation on Tuesday included plans to begin the Michigan Opportunity Scholarship initiative in the 2020-21 fiscal year. The program would provide Michigan high school graduates with either a two-year, debt-free scholarship to community college or two years of tuition assistance at a public university.

Funding for two of the state’s existing financial aid programs — the Tuition Grant Program, and State Competitive Scholarship — remains the same as last year, under Whitmer’s plan.

The budget now goes to the Legislature, where it could be amended, and ultimately will face approval by the House and Senate.


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