Amount of state support still up in air as legislature prepares proposed budgets

The amount of funding Central Michigan University will receive from the state after budget changes remains uncertain.

Toby Roth, director of federal programs, said CMU is waiting to see what happens because the state House and Senate have yet to release budget proposals.

“We’ll have three proposals out there and we’re in a waiting game, waiting to see what happens,” Roth said. “Not one of (former Gov. Jennifer Granholm's) budgets were accepted by the legislature (in their original form).”

CMU will receive a 23.3-percent cut in state appropriations for the 2011-12 school year if the legislature approves Gov. Rick Snyder's proposal.

University President George Ross said a "modest" tuition increase for next year, less than 7.1 percent, will qualify CMU for the tuition incentive grant, shrinking CMU's cut from 23.3 to 15 percent.

State Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, said there is more confusion than certainty about higher education funding, but next week will provide more clarity as the House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee votes on a proposal for higher education.

“There are more question marks than answers right now,” Cotter said. “I’m still optimistic (higher education will see a smaller cut). We still have hope.”

Cotter said they are working in the subcommittee to reduce the burden on Michigan's 15 public universities.

Roth said there is not much CMU can do before it sees what the other political parties propose.

“The legislature will pick bits and pieces of what they like," he said. "I don’t think they will adopt everything the governor has proposed."

Iris Salters, Michigan Education Association president, said even a 15-percent cut is extreme for higher education.

She said Snyder's proposal to merge higher education funding from the general fund into the school aid fund, which funds the K-12 education budget, is a "double whammy.”

“School aid was set aside for K-12 as it has experienced, in the past couple of years better than before, what people are talking about as an excess in revenue,” Salters said. “The legislature, in their wisdom, decided to remove (higher education) from the general fund."

Cotter said that plan is meeting a lot of resistance from K-12, and from higher education and community colleges, who also will see their funding moved to the school aid fund.

“It’s a secondary concern for me,” Cotter said. “The levels at which we can fund both higher education and K-12 (are more important). The cuts to both are very painful.”

Salter said the fund would be burdened with additional cost and "less ... to spread around" if higher education moves to the school aid fund.

“The real people that will suffer is not only K-12, but higher education students, then they will have higher tuition,” Salter said. “Students are going to be paying more and absorbing the cost.”


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