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Updated 12:30 PM February 14, 2007
 

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Governor's proposed budget calls for University increase

Saying higher education is essential to help the state address mounting deficits brought on in part by increasing job losses, Gov. Jennifer Granholm is calling for a 2.5 percent increase in state funding for Michigan universities.

"I applaud the governor's focus on investing in education as a way to secure Michigan's economic future. The key to economic growth is support for education," President Mary Sue Coleman said, in reaction to Granholm's plan.

"The University plays an important role not only in preparing students to take on the challenges of a 21st century economy, but also as a springboard for new ideas, inventions and research that help to diversify the state's economy," Coleman said. "University, business and community leaders are collaborating on ways to encourage development of the state's most promising growth sectors, including alternative energy, life science and homeland security."

The proposed $333.9 million FY 2008 appropriation for the Ann Arbor campus would be the second consecutive increase from the state after four years of cuts, but remains more than $30 million below the University's 2002 appropriation. In FY 2002, the University received about $363 million.

A year ago, Granholm proposed a 2 percent increase but the final budget approved by the governor and Legislature last summer increased aid to U-M by 3 percent.

"For the first time, Michigan's three flagship universities—Michigan State University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Wayne State University—are funded in a separate research university appropriation bill recognizing their unique contribution to the state's economy,'' state Budget Director Bob Emerson told lawmakers.

"These institutions will be required to annually report on their contributions to Michigan's economy through patents, inventions, spin-off businesses and attracting international students and investments," he said.

The three universities, which together bring more than 95 percent of the academic research dollars into the state, last year formed an alliance, the University Research Corridor, to work jointly to transform, strengthen and diversify Michigan's economy.

Each year, the universities announce an average of one new invention per day, produce more than 26,000 graduates, including 3,800 new engineers, 1,300 PhDs, 1,400 MBAs, more than 1,000 new doctors and nurses and 54 percent of the science and engineering graduates. Together, they have more than 1 million living alumni, including more than 100 chief executive officers of major companies in metro Detroit.

"Economists and experts across the country agree that education is the single most effective strategy for stoking a state's economic growth," Granholm said in her State of the State address Feb. 6. "That means we all must create a culture of learning that is unprecedented in Michigan's history. It is the foundation of our economic plan. And we are about to torque it up.''

The governor's recommended budget and related materials are available at www.michigan.gov/budget.

For more on the University Research Corridor, visit www.urcmich.org.

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