The University Record, February 13, 1996

Engler's budget recommendations please officials

By Jane R. Elgass

University officials are pleased that Gov. John Engler's budget recommendations for higher education "are moving in the right direction," says Cynthia H. Wilbanks, associate vice president for government relations.

Under Engler's recommendations, all schools would receive a 4 percent across-the-board increase. Additional special and other adjustments would bring the total to 5 percent. These include special adjustments for schools with intensive engineering programs and for the three graduate-intensive schools---the U-M, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

Engler's budget calls for a $301,474,686 (4.4 percent) increase for the Ann Arbor campus that includes a $1,774,824 special appropriation for graduate education and technology.

U-M-Dearborn would get $22,123,650, an increase of 11.6 percent. U-M-Flint would receive $18,849,300, a 5.2 percent increase.

The governor's recommendations are the highest overall for higher education in 10 years, and "this increase above the inflation rate makes a strong statement about the state's commitment to maintaining access to and affordability of higher education in Michigan," Wilbanks says.

"We are pleased with the governor's recommendations. They are moving in the direction we want. The decision-making supporting the budget appears to be based on providing support for policy objectives related to engineering and graduate education and their value to the state."

Wilbanks says the above-the-norm increases for the Dearborn and Flint campuses reflect an attempt to increase the level of support for schools with low per-student funding, which is supported by the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan.

A recommended capital outlay appropriation of $63 million for major renovations on Central Campus, Wilbanks notes, "continues to recognize problems of aging infrastructures at all state schools."

Engler's budget also calls for repeal of the tuition tax credit, which has benefited only a select group of undergraduate students and their families. On repeal of the credit, an additional base spending adjustment will be made to university and community college budgets.

In his recommendations, Engler noted that repeal of the credit "does not diminish the obligation of governing boards of the state's higher education institutions to restrain increases in tuition and fees."

"Full attention must remain focused on keeping costs under control to ensure that higher education is affordable for Michigan residents."