Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nearly final state budget plan would boost funding on all three campuses

A statewide higher education budget, agreed to Friday by a conference committee of the state House and Senate, would provide additional funding to all three U-M campuses and soften troublesome language on reporting stem cell research.

Overall, the conference committee recommends boosting funding for the state’s 15 state universities a total of 3 percent, an additional $36 million. The House approved the recommendation Friday and the Senate is expected to take action this week.

Under this plan, here is the additional funding recommended for each campus:
• Ann Arbor: An additional $4.25 million, a 1.6 percent increase.

• Flint: An additional $1.34 million, a 7.6 percent increase.

• Dearborn: An additional $882,500, a 4.2 percent increase.

In addition, a statewide pool of $9 million would be distributed to universities that raise tuition no more than 4 percent. The Board of Regents will consider budget proposals from all three campuses at the June 21 meeting in Ann Arbor.

Several changes were made to the performance metrics used to evaluate state universities for funding. Most of the comparisons among schools will be to peer institutions in their Carnegie Classifications for type of institution instead of to each other. Also, research activity is being recognized.

“We are pleased to see that the metrics have evolved to better reflect the diversity of the state’s public universities,” says Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations. “Putting a framework in place to recognize the important work of the research universities — and how that research supports the economic diversification of the state — was critical.

 “We look forward to continued collaboration with the Legislature on the refinement of the performance metrics,” Wilbanks says.

One sticking point from last year appears to be resolved with the conference committee amended language on the request for information about stem cell research. The report will include information that is publicly available.

“We believe we will be able to provide the Legislature with the information it is seeking on stem cell research, based on the language now before the Legislature,” Wilbanks says.  The report will be due Dec. 1 and cover the last two years. 

Some news reports over the weekend indicated that state funding is contingent upon compliance with the stem cell report. That’s not the case, Wilbanks notes.

While there are some provisions in the budget bill that remain very problematic, Wilbanks says she appreciates all of the hard work that went into resolving some major differences among the separate budget plans offered by the governor, the House and the Senate.

 “We are especially grateful for the work of Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, chair of the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Committee, for being a strong advocate for a funding framework that is line with the principles held by our state universities,” she says.

 “I also want to thank the House leadership for their help in finding reasonable solutions to a number of issues that needed to be addressed.”