House Higher Ed Bill Approved
Michigan lawmakers will be pressed to finalize the 2008 budget before the state’s new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The House recently approved its higher education appropriation bill. The Senate must vote on its version before the bill moves into Conference Committee, where a small group representing both legislative bodies and the governor’s office will address the differences between the three proposals.
In the House bill, NMU would receive a 5.1 percent funding increase. In addition to across-the-board operational increases for state universities, the bill includes formula adjustments based on the following three components (in descending order according to how much they are factored): degree completion (50 percent), in which the allocation is based on the number of “weighted” degree completions, with higher weight given to those in math/science/engineering/health areas; participation (35 percent), which is tied to the percentage of undergraduate students receiving Pell Grants; and research (15 percent), based on federally-funded expenditures.
“Over time, formulas will hurt rural regional comprehensive universities such as NMU,” stated President Les Wong in his NMU Parent Partnership newsletter. “Right now, we’re focusing on the positive, which is that the House is increasing funding, rather than decreasing it. Will all of this be settled before Oct. 1? It’s hard to say. While we wait, Northern’s two vice presidents and I, along with the President’s Council, have been discussing what our plan will be if forced to deal with another round of funding reductions. We have some preliminary ideas that we hope we won’t need to implement.”