Senate approves 15 percent cut to higher education, Governor, House, likely to approve as well

The state Senate approved a 15-percent cut of public funding for state universities Tuesday, bringing the budget closer to balance but angering some educational authorities.

CMU will receive about $68 million next year as part of the agreement which will be approved by the state House and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, said Kathy Wilbur, vice president of development and external relations.

“We’re happy (the cut) is not worse,” Wilbur said.

She said a more severe cut in state aid was possible. At one point, universities providing benefits to unmarried domestic partners were to receive an additional 5 percent cut in funding. The language remains in the bill as intended for implementation, but the penalty has been removed.

University funding from the state will now partially be taken from the state aid fund, which was renamed the education fund in the budget. K-12 education and community colleges are also funded from this account.

Doug Pratt, director of public affairs for the Michigan Education Association, said this shift will result in budgetary constraints at all three levels of education, and the budget agreement will deflate the surplus in the School Aid Fund.

“It’s pretty difficult and hard enough to fund higher education,” Pratt said. “It’s going to mean fewer resources driven to students, fewer resources and staff, it is a systematic disinvestment in education.”

Pratt said the investment in education is crucial to attracting businesses to the state as opposed to lower taxes.

Wilbur said she is concerned by the shift in the university’s funding source because it could potentially mean an adversarial relationship between universities, community colleges and K-12 schools.

But, she said, the education fund is more “rich and robust” than the general fund.

“It’s probably a better place to be,” Wilbur said. “The challenge with it is it sets up a more antagonistic relationship between higher education and K-12 and the community colleges, and we hardly need more antagonism, they are our natural partners.”

Wilbur said she does not know what next year’s state funding will look like, but the current budget set up boilerplate language which would allow for a formula that may include per-pupil funding, something she and University President George Ross strongly advocate.

She said the governor said these cuts were a result of a low revenue stream and plans to “hold him to that.”

“Obviously, what we will advocate for is that there will be no cuts like this in the future, and we’ll recover from (this),” Wilbur said. “It’s very dependent on how the state revenues will look (next year).”

State Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said the budget is a result of compromises and he is happy and satisfied with the result.

Cotter said this budget was created as part of an annual effort with recommendations and projections for the next fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1, 2012.

“It’s dependent on a few factors, like if the economy continues to improve,” he said.

He said he appreciates the patience and recommendations of his constituents, because the budget that will be signed will be much better than the initial proposal.

“This budget is doable, and soundly balanced on real numbers.”

While Cotter is satisfied with the budget, the MEA is “absolutely not,” Pratt said.

“The simple fact is without slashing business taxes by 1.8 billion, these cuts wouldn’t have been necessary,” Pratt said.


  1. Michmediaperson says:

    Good. It’s about time.

    These overpaid educational elites need to learn that Governor Snyder needed to slash business taxes by 1.8 billion because businesses can’t survive in Michigan with the high taxation.  In fact, under Democrat Granholm, we lost 800,000 jobs while non-union Republican states like Texas gained jobs.  We need private sector jobs so to increase the tax base.  Without businesses, there will be no jobs.  Why do you think businesses are fleeing union states like Michigan, Illinois and going to right-to-work states like Texas.  Get away from the union and high taxes!  The unionized states are broke!

    Snyder went easy.  I would have made all these overpaid university employees pay 20-30 percent of their health care, just like the PRIVATE SECTOR does.

    Time to cut the waste at CMU and get all universities lean.  Make the profs teach more classes, do away with the political correctness and lower administrative salaries.  Time for these educational elites to take pay cuts!

    We need to put Michigan businesses first since they produce jobs and quit listening to the educational elites and the unions!

    Snyder is doing a good job cleaning up the Democrat’s mess!  Plus, he’s paying himself $1 a year.  Who at CMU only makes $1 a year.

    Instead of sacrificing like Snyder is doing, selfish university employees statewide only want more!

    Today was a big victory in Lansing!  Life has been good in Lansing since Snyder, Cotter and the Republicans arrived.   Going to get even better!

    • It’s very easy for a multimillionaire to pay himself a $1 salary-he has plenty of money and could easily afford health insurance if he lost it. Most working people, including many CMU students, faculty, and staff, don’t have that luxury. Hardworking ordinary folks do sacrifice, every day, to put ford on the table and care for their families. But most Republicans simply don’t care about-they only want to make deals with their rich constituents in order to stay in office.

  2. Wow…I never realized making $30,000 per year was selfish and greedy. 

    With the cost of living so high right now, employees are working hard just to make ends meet, most doing the jobs of 3-5 employees given the recent cuts. 

    Not complaining aboutt our jobs – it’s what we choose to do.  But don’t call us selfish and greedy for working a minimum of 60 hours a week at these wages.

    • Michmediaperson says:

      Guest—You believe what the Democrats and Unions and elite educators tell you.  You must be reading their talking points.  The problem is the Free-Press exposed it a month ago.  They blew the whistle.

      If you can show me that George Ross only makes $30,000 a year as CMU president, I’ll buy you dinner at the Casino.

      When you have a Governor who is working for only $1 a year and you have millions of Michigan residents out of work because of the 8 years of Democrat Jennifer Granholm rule, how dare the educational elite, unions and professors and K-12 educators and teachers bad mouth the struggles of the private sector taxpayers statewide.  You have a lot of private sector people who lost jobs, had wages and benefits cut because of Granholm.  Yet, she lined the pockets of elite educators and members of the teacher’s unions with lavish pay raises, benefits and great retirement

      We need to create private sector jobs…..not padding the wallets of educators and their lucrative retirement pensions.

      Guest—didn’t you read the liberal Free-Press expose showing how professors and administrators lined their pockets with taxpayer money the last 4 years while the private sector struggled.

      You think Kathy Wilbur only makes $30,000.  You think the senior officers at CMU and all other state-supported universities make only $30,000.   You think the unionized, tenured CMU professors make only $30,000.  Just a couple weeks ago, this fine paper had a story about CMU professors making $190,000 a year.  Rick Snyder is sacrificing, 800,000 workers who lost their jobs sacrificed, how about professors and administrators.  How about some sacrificing out of them.

      CMU and other educators, both union and non-union should sacrifice and roll back their wages to pre-recession salaries, pay 20 percent or more for their health care and stop the pensions and move to a 401K system where the taxpayers would only kick in about $1,000 a year for their retirements.

      I have a old classmate retiring after 30 years as a school teacher in Illinois, unionized, tenured, can’t get fired teacher, who will be getting a $55,000 a year retirement check.  That’s ridiculous.  It’s no wonder Illinois is broke.  They need to break the union contracts and stop the retirement insanity.  Show me one company in Mt. Pleasant where every employee is going to get a $55,000 retirement check annually.

      Guest—-if it were me, they should take paycuts and lower tuition on the cash-strapped students.  We Republicans believe in lower tuition and less unionized employee monies and benefits!  Students first!!!

  3. This illustrates well how the Republican Party cares about people. Tax
    the pensions of our retired. Reduce all education funding. Oh, and use
    the money saved to cut the taxes of big business.

    It is why thousands of demonstrators were in Lansing Saturday, May 21st
    to join the movement to recall Gov. Rick Snyder. Readers may learn more
    about the recall effort at http://firericksnyder.org/

    Richard Lake

    Escanaba, Michigan

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