Funding cut approved by Michigan lawmakers; CMU to lose $2.3 million

Higher education funding will be cut 2.8 percent following a compromise approved Tuesday by a joint state Senate and House conference committee.

State Rep. Bill Caul, R-Mount Pleasant, said Central Michigan University was allocated $80,132,000 for the 2010-11 school year — a loss of $2,304,000 from 2009-10.

Caul said the legislature had a target to hit in order to balance the budget, but did not want to cut any more scholarship dollars.

“We were able to still meet the target which allowed us to pass the budget (in committee),” he said.

The original proposed reduction for higher education funding was 3.1 percent, but was dropped to 2.8 percent after some negotiations, he said.

The bill was passed by both the Senate and House separately only a few hours after committee approval. It now must be signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said the legislature chose to protect tuition grants for students attending private colleges instead of cutting them to balance the budget.

Granholm proposed a budget that did not cut university operations, but eliminated the tuition grants instead.

“They obviously have a different position on the issue and we will simply be reviewing the budget when it comes to the governor’s desk,” she said. “The governor obviously would have preferred the legislature adopted her proposal.”

According to the university operating budget, CMU estimated receiving $67,800 less from the state than what was ultimately allocated for this year.

Carol Haas, director of Financial Planning and Budgets, said CMU has been planning for budget cuts since last year, when Granholm proposed a budget reduction that brought the university down to the $80 million level.

“We’ve been in flux over the budget so far, so we went with what the governor’s proposed amount was last year and this year,” Haas said.

Haas said the university continues to plan for budget cuts because it’s an election year and newly elected officials could modify the budget in 2011.

“We are prudently trying to accommodate for any budget cuts come January,” she said.

The university has reduction plans in place to fall back on and the higher-than-expected enrollment numbers for this year will help buffer any future reductions in state appropriations, Haas said.

Kathy Wilbur, vice president of Government Relations and Public Affairs, said the legislature will have a more difficult time next year balancing the budget.

She said next year’s state budget is predicted to be at least a $1.6 billion shortfall, which could mean a 20 percent reduction in state appropriations for CMU.

“I think the legislature was very careful and cautious this year about cuts,” Wilbur said. “I think next year will be a different story.”


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