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Posted on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Budget 2012: U-M receives 1.6% percent increase, must report stem cell research

By Kellie Woodhouse

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that U-M must report on its stem cell research, however that report is not officially tied to fiscal 2012-13 funding.

State legislators reached a consensus Friday on Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed $1.4 billion higher education budget, agreeing to re-draft performance-based funding metrics and require the University of Michigan to report on its embryonic stem cell research.


Officials at a University of Michigan commencement ceremony.

Melanie Maxwell |

Since Snyder proposed his budget in February, top U-M officials have been critical of the existing performance funding model, saying the metrics don't fairly track success.

Snyder and House lawmakers proposed funding be tied to improvement in degree completion rates, the number of degrees universities offer in "critical skill areas," the number of Pell Grant recipients attending the institution and tuition restraint.

Senate and House lawmakers agreed this morning to keep the tuition restraint and critical skill degrees metrics, but decided to eliminate the Pell Grant requirement and rework the graduation rate requirement. The new formula considers a university's Carnegie Classification, which takes into consideration completion rates and institutional support, among other things. The formula also rewards research and development expenditures.

The end result is a 1.6 percent funding increase for U-M, instead of the 1.8 percent increase proposed by a House appropriations subcommittee. As a whole, higher education funding increased 3 percent this year.

"While U-M saw only a 1.6 percent increase this year, they are still getting almost 11 percent of the performance money," said Rebecca Devooght, chief of staff for State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who was integral in higher education budget negotiations. Devooght said the new formula is the first step in measuring universities to their peers instead of other Michigan institutions.

"You can't compare Michigan to Northern; you can't even really compare Michigan State to Michigan," Devooght said.

U-M is set to receive $4.2 million in performance funding this year, prior to tuition restraint monies. Lawmakers are setting aside $9 million to be split between universities who keep tuition increases below 4 percent.

"Measuring performance is critical to ensure that our hardworking taxpayers get a return for their investments in ... education," state Rep. Kevin Cotter, R- Mt. Pleasant, said on the House floor Friday afternoon.

Democratic representatives expressed discontent over the stem-cell research reporting requirement and bill language pertaining to other social issues. For example, state lawmakers are requiring universities to prohibit students from protesting local businesses during their internships.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D- Detroit, said the boiler plate additions "directly violates a university's academic freedom."

"This is the kind of approach that leaves a bad taste to voters' mouths back home," Tlaib said. "This implies in many ways that we are for sale. ... This budget smells funny, it actually reeks."

The protest language, specifically requested by the Michigan Restaurant Association, was added in response to a handful of U-M students protesting a local business in Detroit during an internship with a nonprofit.

The stem cell requirement originates from a disagreement between Republican lawmakers and U-M —the only university in the state to conduct research using embryonic stem cells— on how U-M should report on its research. A House subcommittee wanted U-M to provide the exact amount of stem cells it's using for research purposes, but U-M President Mary Sue Coleman refused, saying "we don’t collect the data in this way."

GOP state representatives accused U-M of thumbing its nose at the Legislature and threatened to withhold funding from the school.

"As a legislative body, we are only as good as the information we can attain. They basically thumb their nose at the (Legislature),” Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Genoa Township, told MLive recently. Rogers chairs the state House's K-12 budget and Department of Education budget subcommittees.

In the new budget draft, the Legislature requires U-M to report on its use of stem cells more thoroughly than before, but does not require the school to disclose the number of embryonic stem cells it uses.

Devooght said U-M was not enthusiastic about the stem cell requirement remaining, but predicted that officials will report stem cell research as requested by the Legislature.

"They would be giving up almost $5 million in performance funding" otherwise, she said. U-M Vice President for Government Relations Cynthia Wilbanks said the stem-cell change is a "reasonable solution" but criticized the language forbidding protests.

"We vigorously disagree with the inclusion of that language in a higher education bill," she said.

Disagreements over how best to appropriate this year's 3 percent, $36 million funding increase forced the Legislature to miss its self-imposed June 1 deadline to pass the fiscal 2012-13 budget.

"There were serious differences of opinion," Wilbanks said. In fact, chair of the House subcommittee on higher education appropriations Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, removed himself from negotiations due to disagreements.

The House is expected to pass the agreed-upon higher education package at its afternoon meeting today and the Senate is expected to pass it next week.

Devooght admitted the comprise wasn't a perfect formula and said lawmakers will monitor how it plays out over the next year.

"We're going to really have to look at these because there's no perfect system when you're attempting to quantify and reward and look at universities that are this different," she said. "We're going to have to evaluate what goes on."

Added Wilbanks:

"I don’t think we're close to perfection. This bill is the result of some pretty serious discussions and a willingness at the end of the day to try and find a compromise."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 10:58 p.m.

It seems to me the retrogrades in Lansing are intent on having the biotech industry leave the state along with the associated venture capital and jobs.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 2:24 a.m.

They already got rid of them once, it cost the state hundreds of millions when the stem cell ban went into effect. California put up $1B to get all the Michigan researchers or as many as they could. Now they are broke and the UM endowment plus the Pfizer complex will get them back if the Cretons in Lansing don't screw it up again.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

The actions of the current Republican Legislative body in Lansing appear so driven by the needs to micromanage already robustly successful entities and by personal ideology let alone the party dogma that has little to do with the specific needs of our State. For one thing, to legislate academic freedom of an institution with an international reputation because of pressure by a special interest group sets up a very scarey precedent which does not bode well for encouraging new business or academic ventures into our State. To ignore or pretend that the University of Michigan is not one of the major employers/ business presence in our area in terms of employment opportunities is very puzzling. This seems to be not relevant. Stem cell research can be supported by our state or it will move out of the state to an area more receptive to research and development investments. Top researchers are not going to be attracted to a State that doesn't support their work.

Lac Court Orilles

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.

It's time that Republicans stop inserting their stupid right wing mantra into the funding of our schools. Maybe we should come up with a formula to reduce Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville's salary by the excessive number of free lunches he accepts each month.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:21 a.m.

Forcing Universities to keep students from protesting while they are on internships. I'd like to see that stand up in Court. It may in the kangaroo Michigan Court system but not in any Federal Court! They have heard of this thing called the constitution that provides individuals with rights, like the ability to assemble and PROTEST, etc.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

I think that's more in response to giving interns credit for engaging in a protest as an assignment of their internship. Nothing can prohibit the students from personally and freely engaging in protests or for not doing so. This was in response to a UM prof giving credit to a summer internship walking the picket lines in a restaurant workers labor dispute. Something similar happened at NMU. While we see a bunch of people here complaining about the stem cell reporting requirement as being ideology institutionalized, that only is a matter of reporting research. This protest for credit business on the other hand is professorial ideology inculcated into educational doctrine. The students aren't being asked to weigh the merits of labor and employer, they are told which side to pick, which side's arguments are correct and to simply be puppets in a picket line. Seems to me that's institutionalization of ideology with a capital "I".


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

Conservatives trying to take control of people again.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

Yes. Trying to take control of people who are paid by the taxpayer. The horrors!!!


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Expecting a publicly subsidized school (whose workers collect taxpayer paid salaries) to report on progress on how they are spending tax dollars is outrageous!!!


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.

a2citizen spewing the right wing lie. 1. The federal research money has NOTHING to do with the state of Michigan money that is coming in. 2. If the legislature wants to see results, why is it only on THIS specific research. Would you care to guess ho many other research programs there are at the U? Why is the religious one the one they care so much about? The fact is, the politicians will use any research that fails against the projects. Research will ALWAYS fail. That is what research is. You try certain things to see what may or may not work. A LOT of things fail. When there are failures the first thing they will say is it is wasted money, so lets not do any more research. I also wonder how the Mich Restaurant Association can come to the party and tell ANYBODY what can and can not be protested by people. THAT is called the government infringing on free speech. Imagine the government telling those that disagree with them that they would pay higher taxes, or get lower social security. I can not wait to see this in court.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 8:41 a.m.

Let's look at your fact: "The U receives over $330 million in direct state appropriations" The states appropriation to the UofM for 2012 is $269M (as of the June 2011 report) after the massive cuts over the last few years. The UofM operating budget is approximately $5.4B. Doing the math gives 4.,98% of the operating budget is from state appropriations. "The U receives over $750 million in federal research expenditures" Federal research support of $750M has nothing to do with the state expenditures. In fact it brings in money to pay researchers, support staff and suppliers which benefits the state through income taxes.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 5:35 a.m.

willy bob, "...You seem to think the U is still getting significant support from the state..." I wish only 5 percent of the U budget were subsidized as in your analogy. Some facts for you: The U receives over $330 million in direct state appropriations The U receives over $750 million in federal research expenditures Well, you know what they say, "Ann Arbor, 27 square miles surrounded by reality".

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

This is like saying that a person making $100,000 a year, who get's $5,000 of his pay from the government, is living on a government subsidy. You seem to think the U is still getting significant support from the state like it did a few decades ago. Nope. The state has long since given up on that, and left the U to find its own way. Of course, nowadays, they support that approach by trying to destroy public education in this state and this country.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 11:18 p.m.

What?! We have to get rid of Snyder. Now. By the way. I have forms at my house if you haven't signed yet! Let me know.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

This piece of legislation is so incredibly offensive to me.... if this was really about verifying use of tax payer dollars, the legislation would require the reporting of other research areas. But since it doesn't, I can only conclude that it has to do with forcing personal beliefs - based in religion - into already legal academic research. Clearly the Republicans who support emergency managers and legislation like this have little respect for the true meaning of democracy .


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Show us the lotto money and the casino money so we can see HOW much our school have comming!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

Just donot take the money. U of M has plenty of Alumni that "GIVE". Stem cell NOT of the Governor business......looking for a loophole for HIS new venture, since "the bridge" folded


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Again jcj spewing lies again. The U is AUTONOMOUS based on a silly document called the constitution of the state of Michigan. He also thinks if the UM were private they would pay taxes, as usual he is wrong. Typical of the right wing, if they say it often enough they will convince people it is true, even when it is a lie. I think they have convinced themselves of the lie.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 11:20 p.m.

Huh? What?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

Malarkey! The U of M thinks they are autonomous. If they want to run the show , PAY some taxes!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

I read all the comments, and then the story. Where's the problem? Yes, I agree the anti-protest legislation is a complete infringement of a person's right. Out side of that, I see no problem in asking for accountability in tax dollars being spent. I am glad there is a new attitude in Lansing. When they spend money; they want to see the results.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:57 a.m.

There is no state money in stem cell research. The way to find out what the researchers are doing with stem cells is to start reading their research documentation in Journals on the subject.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

Bogie: " I am glad there is a new attitude in Lansing. When they spend money; they want to see the results." Don't you mean, "They want to see THEIR rresults? I.e., they don't just want results, but they want the results that support their personal views on life.

Susie Q

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

The problem lies in the religious zealots in the Legislature who want to stop embryonic stem cell research, using additional governmental regulation to do so. These are the same jokers who complain bitterly about regulations on wetlands, fracking, the bottle deposit law, etc, etc. It is only excessive regulation if it affects one of their political contributors (big oil, Ambassador Bridge, party store owners, beverage distributors, groceries and other businesses.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

The Republicans are pandering to their constituency by not supporting the University of Michigan. What is truely bizzaro about what the Republicans did is that they tied all of these strings to irrelevant and stupid metrics, ignoring what might matter most to Michigan voters: the percent of in state students matriculated. One can only assume there will be fewer in state students admitted to UM to make up for the lack of state funding. Kudos to one tough nerd for standing up for his Alma Mater, and god save the state of michigan! Holding the lid on tuition increases also holds the lid on financial aid increases, so what they are really saying is "No more Robin Hood, don't raise tuition to give more aid to the families who otherwise could not afford to send their kids to college".


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Exactly how will Representative Bill Rogers and the rest of the state legislature use the stem cell numbers if they were provided? How many legislators have the science background to understand the stem cell research and its potential for improving health?


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

Especially given that only 4 other States have less educated legislators than those representing Michigan (in terms of those having college degrees). The lack of education in Lansing is clear!


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

It's not clear to me that they are at all interested in trying to "understand" them. Your earlier verb -- how will they "use" the information -- is probably closer to the mark; "use" them for ideological points, principally to their "base".


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

What are you implying, that they will use the reports to powder their wigs?


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

The "small government" republicans are at it again...trying to control our lives.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

The rhetoric of opponents of stem cell research always ignores the fact that the embryos that are the source of the stem cells would have been destroyed in any event. The embryos are excess embryos from fertility clinics. Because it often takes multiple tries for an embryo implanted in a patient's womb to yield a birth, fertility clinics routinely harvest multiple eggs, so that the procedure -- involving a long needle and some risk to the woman -- does not have to be repeated needlessly. One or more embryos is used in the first try, and the excess are stored, frozen, in case additional tries are needed. Often, then, some embryos are left over, when an implanted embryo takes hold.. What then to do with the leftover embryos? In most cases, they are destroyed. It is these embryos, that would have otherwise be destroyed, that are the course of stem cells used in research. That means, contrary to the rhetoric, that no embryos are destroyed for research that would not have been destroyed in the ordinary course. So, most people, I think, find it hard to see a moral difficulty in this, contrary to the arguments of the opponents of stem cell research.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 4:21 a.m.

MPope, I made the point that the embryos that supply the stem cells for research are excess embryos at fertility clinics that would otherwise be destroyed, so why not use them instead for good -- in one of the most promising areas of medical research -- rather then just waste them? You countered that you "ideologues" -- your term, not mine -- oppose even that use of embryonic stem cells. Then, why not come clean and admit that your position would abolish fertility clinics altogether? This would of course cut off medical assistance to a great many couples who need help in conceiving. If, as you say, you can't destroy the excess embryos -- and presumably you wouldn't advocate just keeping them in freezers forever -- then logically you can't create them in the clinic at all. Embryos, if you follow the logic of your position, can only be created in the usual biological manner involving a man and a woman. Hence, no fertility clinics. Recall that hundreds of thousands of healthy, much-loved children have been conceived with the aid of in vitro fertilization (IVF) since Louise Brown was born in England in 1978. But your position is that the method is illegitimate? As for your empty rhetoric that U-M opposes documenting its research, leaguebus has a greater knowledge of research and supplied the answer: ""You are wrong, all research is documented by the researcher. All PHD theses are documented research. No entity grants research funds without documentation. It's not documentation that you want, it's red tape to stop people from doing this research." It is transparent to the University, and to anyone else paying attention, that the legislative demand for information in some other form is designed solely to interfere with the stem cell research that these ideologues can't stop by less underhanded ways.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

You are wrong, all research is documented by the researcher. All PHD theses are documented research. No entity grants research funds without documentation. It's not documentation that you want, it's red tape to stop people from doing this research.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

always is a big word. and woefully misplaced in your thesis. more accurately, the 'ideologues' who oppose stem cell research acknowledge every syllable of what you described. the sequence you described with such cavalier is precisely what we ideologues oppose. allow me to finish your sentence with fact ( but bias intact): that means, that contrary to the rhetoric that no embryos are destroyed for research that would not have been destroyed in the ordinary course OF DESTROYING EMBRYOS. (please don't thank me. service to truth free of charge.) that is why the ideologues oppose it. they get it. they oppose it. because human embroys are human life. but. for the sake of the up-at-arms alter idelogues, allow me to clarify the article's stated condition of grant: document the research. U of M is incensed that governments controlling taxpayer money insist they document their research. they say they can't document the research. repeat: University of Michigan says it cant be expected to document their research.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Maybe U of M should just become a private university, foregoing state aid, and charging commensurate tuition. In-state residents will lose their in-state tuition advantage. Then, the legislature can change the State of Michigan seal to a big fat "L," for the loser that it is.


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

@jcj, Really? You think so? What does Concordia (a private school) pay in taxes? Typical oof the right wing, they spew lies and do not have facts to back them up. Once you show how much extra the city, state or county take in from ANY private not for profit school wwe can have a conversation. Until you do, just go back to the corner and be quiet

Matt Irelan

Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 2:51 a.m.

FYI: Neither public, nor Private Colleges pay taxes. Only For Profit Colleges do that.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

"Maybe U of M should just become a private university" Suits me then they would be on the tax rolls.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

UM won't need to forgo state will happen on its own with a dwindling decrease in state support as the years go by.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

Just what we need, more ideologues who let religion get in the way of science. It is absolutely amazing how the repubs want to turn the clock back to the 1950's. Don't let education happen because it is a repub's worst threat to power, because if people understand what they are all about, there is no way one can vote for them, at least not people who are enlightened.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:07 p.m.

Of course burdensome regulations are only a problem for the Republicans when it involves environmental or safety issues. This stem cell rule is based purely on ideology and has no practical health or safety value.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

It's not ideology, it's religious dogma, plain and simple.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

The university could write a 5000 page report documenting ALL the life-saving medical/scientific research their students and faculty do, and include the stem cell research as part it. Let the zealots who want the data dig it out.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Balanced budgets are painful but needed. We have been decades with the state leaning one way. Lets see if we get better results with this new shift in the governors mansion.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 9:54 p.m.

you must pay more now.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

So is it a pizza when it comes out of the oven? Or is it a pizza the moment you put your fists in the dough? I guess it depends on your political leanings.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:35 p.m.

They should name the first cloned baby Bo.


Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

Just more proof, as if it was really needed, that the only "government overr each" or social engineering that the Republicas oppose, is Democratic government over reach. One can hope that, although his track record on such things to date is not promising, Gov. Snyder will have the guts to veto this outrageous proposal to make it more difficult to conduct stem cell research.


Sat, Jun 2, 2012 : 2:52 a.m.

the "outrageous proposal" that u of m researchers outline procedures, analyze results, collect data and communicate conclusions. how can researchers be expected to access information like that? restrictions as these have no place in scientific experimentation.

Space Cowgirl

Fri, Jun 1, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

What is this "outrageous proposal" of which you speak?