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Updated 10:00 AM February 13, 2006




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Coleman: Proposed state appropriation 'welcome news'

President Mary Sue Coleman says the governor's plan to increase higher education funding by 2 percent in fiscal year 2007 is "welcome news after the last several years of reductions."

"I'm also encouraged that the governor will recognize the distinct role of our research universities as important contributors to the state's future," Coleman said in response to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's budget plan announced Feb. 9. Granholm justified the $34 million increase to higher education by saying the state's colleges and universities are important to economic development.

"I agree that our achievements with respect to research and innovation, commercialization of the fruits of that research, and the economic activity around our campuses will provide a firm foundation for the state's economic transition," Coleman said.

The proposal would increase funding to the state's three major research institutions—U-M, Michigan State University and Wayne State University—by the 2 percent, and increase the other 12 public universities by 1 percent across the board with an additional 1 percent to be distributed through a formula based on degree completion, accessibility, affordability, and outreach to low-income students, according to a news release from the state budget office.

The increase would bring U-M's state appropriation to $322.7 million. In FY 2002 the state's appropriation to the Ann Arbor campus was about $363 million. Last year state funding was cut to just over $314 million.

Community colleges would get a 2 percent across-the-board increase as well. Under the proposal the overall budget for higher education is $1.7 billion. The total proposed FY 07 state budget is $42.6 billion.

The plan also calls for more than $230 million for scholarships and student financial aid programs, including continuation of the Michigan Merit Award Program at a cost of $127.7 million.

The legislative appropriations committees now will work through the governor's proposal. Coleman will testify before the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Committee at 10 a.m. Feb. 24 at Western Michigan University, and will go before the House's counterpart at 10:30 a.m. May 3 in Lansing.

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