Cuts in funding to universities less than anticipated by U-M and EMU
After preparing for a state funding decrease of more than 3 percent in their budgets approved in the spring, the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University received good news today.
The Michigan Legislature approved a budget plan that would cut state aid to universities by 2.8 percent in the 2011 fiscal year. Both EMU and U-M passed budgets anticipating a 3.1 percent decrease in state funding.
Walter Kraft, vice president of communications for EMU, said the difference amounted to “several hundred thousand dollars.”
“The fact that it came in a little less than (budgeted for) and is in that same ballpark means it allows us to continue what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re investing in academic buildings and resources, things that will enhance the student experience at Eastern Michigan.”
The budget was approved by a 31-6 vote in the Senate and a 61-43 vote in the House.
Cynthia Wilbanks, U-M vice president for government relations, said the university will continue to emphasize the importance of investing in higher education, despite repeated cuts.
“While this budget represents another reduction in state support for universities, the final appropriation bill is the product of much compromise,” Wilbanks said in a statement. “We are especially pleased that the conferees agreed to drop the Senate language that would have required new reports from universities on stem cell research.”
The budget approved today will not require universities to file reports on stem cell research spending.
The cuts were a part of the Legislature’s attempt to slice a projected $484 million deficit before the new fiscal year begins on Friday.
Kraft said the impact of the cuts will be minimal on EMU’s investment in its academic infrastructure, including 46 new faculty members, $145 million in new construction and renovations, and a new $90 million science complex. He said despite the difficulties in projecting state finances, the funding from the state would allow the university to “continue doing what we’re doing.”
Wilbanks expressed disappointment in further cuts to higher education by the state, and said she believes the amount of adults with a college education is vital to Michigan’s recovery.
“We must grow that percentage in Michigan to be successful in the future and the state’s investment in higher education is critical to achieving that growth,” she said.