Governor’s Funding Plan for Colleges and Universities
By Greg Bird
On February 8th, Governor Rick Snyder presented his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year to the state legislature. Over the next few months, the state legislature will examine this proposal and make changes that they believe are in the best interest of the state.
The Governor’s proposed budget for the state’s colleges and universities includes an additional $36.6 million for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2017. That amounts to an overall increase of 2.5 percent. Because of the performance funding formula, however, not every institution will not see this amount. Under this proposal, Wayne State University (WSU) will see only a 2 percent increase. That amounts to an additional $3.88 million for the coming year if the University keeps any tuition increase under 3.8 percent or $475 per student.
WSU is happy to see that the Governor’s budget includes reinvestment in higher education, but it is very disappointing that for the sixth consecutive year, WSU will receive one of the lowest percentage increases in state funding.
These funding levels are based on Michigan’s performance metrics formula. By any important measure, however – enrollment, graduation rates, research, economic impact – WSU’s performance is either near the top or improving. Unfortunately, the formula is flawed, and this hurts the university, our students, and our state.
The current methodology uses the Carnegie Foundation’s classification to compare WSU with other universities that have the highest levels of research. This results in nonsensical comparisons with the nation’s top research universities and other institutions that bear no resemblance to Wayne State. With this formula, Wayne State would actually receive more performance funding if it did less research, which would benefit neither the university nor the state. Furthermore, some of the performance funding metrics do not recognize graduate activity, or emphasize research as much as they should.
We will continue to advocate that the state’s metrics should lead to desirable outcomes for students and the state’s economy and should take into account each school’s unique mission.
Capital Outlay Project Update
Governor Rick Snyder’s budget included funding for Wayne State University’s STEM Innovation Learning Center that the University hopes to construct in the near future. The Capital Outlay budget that the Governor proposed included funding for three university, two community college and two state agency projects.
The budget proposes to pay $14.9 million of the STEM Innovation Learning Center, which is about half the cost of the project.
The plan calls to renovate and repurpose the Science and Engineering Library (SEL). The SEL was closed a few years ago as part of the continuing necessity to reduce operating costs. Because WSU has experienced such tremendous growth in STEM student enrollment and graduation rates since 2010, the University believes this project is an outstanding investment opportunity to create an enhanced instructional environment for our undergraduate STEM students.