After an initial 15 percent slash to higher education funding when he first entered office in 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) announced he intends to return funding levels to pre-2011 levels in his 2017 – 2018 budget recommendation Wednesday. 

Snyder’s budget recommendation included an allocation of $61.2 million to go towards higher education institutions, which equates to a 4.3 percent increase in funding. The increase is over double the 2 percent allocated last year.

In his budget recommendation, Snyder said he aimed for a minimum of 60 percent of state residents to have a degree or credential by 2025. The 60 percent figure is one of several goals in a December report on Michigan’s workforce on higher education released by a group of legislators, non-profits and insitutions. 

Dave Murray, Snyder’s press secretary, said the increase in higher education funds is important for both students and the state economy.

“Governor Snyder recognizes that Michigan’s institution of higher education play a vital role in our state’s comeback,” Murray said. “Every family wants their children to be able to graduate and get a job right here and not have to leave Michigan to find those great jobs. By increasing our investment, we’re helping students get the skills they need and also to help our industry create more, better jobs that they know there will be people graduating with those skills. That’s good for Michigan now, and long into the future.”

The University’s Ann Arbor campus will receive a 4.2 percent increase in funding equating to $299,975,000 for operational costs and an additional $12,718,500 for performance funding — the largest sum allocated by the state to a university — contingent on meeting cap on tuition increase levied by the state. The University’s Flint and Dearborn campuses will receive 5.1 and 4.8 increases in funding, with a total of $21.8 million and $24 million respectively. 

In a press release, Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president of government relations, said the University was pleased with the higher allocation.

“This is a great way to start the states budgeting process and we look forward to getting additional details and working with legislators in the weeks ahead,” Wilbanks said. “We have long said that investing in higher education contributes significantly to the state’s economic well-being.”

Under Snyder’s recommendation, the cap on tuition will also be raised, from 3.2 percent last year to 4.8 percent this year. The increased tuition cap comes in the wake of several higher education institutions breaking it over the past few years. None of the University’s tuition increases have broken the cap since the practice was instituted in 2012, with increases ranging from almost exactly at the limit to a percent or more below. 

Oakland University and Eastern University each surpassed the cap last year and had to testify to the Michigan House and Senate appropriation subcommittees earlier this year about it. 

Oakland, who increased their tuition by 8.48 percent last year, received the highest percent increase in state funding in this year’s budget proposal at 6 percent.

$107.5 million in the governor’s overall budget request was also included in the budget to go towards financial aid services, with an additional $2 million was allocated to fund the state’s Tuition Incentive Program, which guarantees several years of college funding to specific populations of students as an incentive to complete high school.

Snyder’s recommenation will now go to the legislature, who will have to approve each item, a process that typically takes months and often results in amendments to the initial numbers. 

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