Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 82 and House Bill 4400 Wednesday, forming the state’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget. The budget takes effect on Oct. 1. The bill includes a 5% increase in funding for all 15 of Michigan’s public universities, including all three University of Michigan campuses.
The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus will receive a total of $326.3 million in funding. The Dearborn and Flint campuses will receive $26.6 million and $24.2 million, respectively.
The funding increases are contingent upon campuses increasing in-state undergraduate tuition by no more than either 4.2% or $590, whichever is greater, in the 2021-22 academic year. In addition, universities receiving state funding that have vaccine mandates must provide exemptions for religious and medical reasons. The University has offered such exemptions to students, faculty and staff since announcing its mandate in July.
The budget also includes a 3.6% or $2.5 million increase in the Tuition Incentive Program, a financial aid program for Medicaid-eligible Michigan students.
The U-M Board of Regents raised University President Mark Schlissel’s annual salary by 3% during their meeting last week, bringing it to $927,000, based on the new budget allocations. The regents also extended the Go Blue Guarantee to the Flint and Dearborn campuses in June, promising free tuition for four years to students with a GPA of 3.5 from families with an annual income below $65,000.
Whitmer struck a line item in the budget added by Republican legislators about COVID-19 restrictions. The provision, which would withhold funds from county public health departments mandating masks for schools without support from the county’s commissioners, was a part of the bill’s boilerplate language, official text which should not change policy.
Whitmer is unable to veto this language, so she and previous governors have had to declare those portions of the budget unconstitutional to prohibit their enactment. Whitmer alleged this policy evades the Public Health Code, substantially changing policy. This, her office said in the budgetary transmittal letter, makes the provision unconstitutional.
In a Thursday evening press release, the Washtenaw County Health Department clarified its COVID-19 emergency orders related to isolation, quarantine and mask requirements in schools would not be changing.
“While the recently enacted state budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 contains language addressing the effect that an emergency order may have on appropriated funds, the Health Department retains the authority to issue and enforce its emergency orders,” the press release said.
The budget also withholds funding from public agencies that require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for employees, a measure which Whitmer did not veto. Employers are able to mandate regular testing for unvaccinated employees in lieu of a vaccine mandate.
Additional budget provisions include a $500 million transfer to the state’s fund balance, — the largest in its history — to shore up reserves after the state received an influx of federal funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as $196 million for infrastructure improvements and bonus pay for childcare and direct health care workers.
This story has been updated to include a Thursday evening press release from the Washtenaw County Health Department.
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta contributed reporting.
Daily Staff Reporter Dominic Coletti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.