MSU funding increases proposed
Gov. Rick Snyder unveils his recommendations for Michigan’s budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Before the budget proposal can be implemented, the Michigan House and Senate both must pass it. Adam Toolin/The State News
Gov. Rick Snyder recommended a 2 percent increase in 2014 for higher education Thursday, but the small increase might not be enough to make up for double-digit cuts in 2012.
Michigan universities, including MSU, received a funding blow in 2012 when Snyder cut state higher education spending by almost 15 percent.
This fiscal year, Snyder gave 3 percent back to public universities and suggested another 2 percent increase next year during a presentation Thursday morning at the Boji Tower, 124 W. Allegan St., in Lansing.
The increase would add about $25 million to Michigan universities’ current $1.4 billion budget overall.
During the presentation, the governor stressed educating Michigan’s youth and expanding job opportunities for college graduates.
“We need to focus on keeping our young people here, and we’re going to stay committed to that,” he said.
Acting Provost June Youatt said MSU’s share of the extra $25 million would be added to MSU’s general fund, which supports the university’s academic programs.
Snyder also suggested a $100 million incentive if more engineering students graduate in 2015.
“Much of our economic growth in the state is dependent upon having the right kind of skilled labor,” Youatt said.
Universities would compete for the money and graduate different types of engineers, ranging from computer engineers to chemical engineers.
Youatt said MSU already has shown efforts to increase the number of engineers, including the university’s plans to build a new bioengineering building.
She said if MSU received the money, it could create more engineering facilities, such as laboratory space.
“I’m expecting that we and several institutions across the state will be very competitive for those funds,” she said.
State Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, said he felt Snyder’s budget was a “mixed bag.”
Singh recently was appointed vice chair of the state’s Higher Education and Education subcommittee.
He said he was disappointed the governor suggested universities receive a 2 percent increase after the massive cuts two years ago, and feels the state should work to get university funding back up to that base line.
On the other hand, Singh said he was happy to see the governor wants to expand Medicaid coverage, which would give more people access to health care.
Youatt said she doesn’t expect higher education funding to bounce back from its 15 percent cut anytime soon.
“No matter how supportive the governor is, I don’t think he feels he has the latitude to make those kinds of jumps,” she said. “I hope that we all see the day when Michigan is prosperous enough that we have the funds to make those kinds of decisions.”
Singh said he plans to be a broken record for increasing higher education funding during his tenure in the state House of Representatives.
“I want people to know that (universities) are an economic engine for the state,” he said. “If we’re not preparing our students for these global jobs, then we’re not meeting our responsibilities.”