Gov. Rick Snyder announced Feb. 8 in his proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year that he plans to increase funding for higher education institutions and water quality projects.
The plan proposes an increase of $36.6 million for higher education institutions for university operations, differing from the actual increase of $41.2 million for fiscal year 2017 and a total university operations budget at about $1.4 billion. Snyder's plan also includes a $6.8 million investment for drinking water quality programs, including lead prevention and toxicology response.
The proposed increase in spending for higher education institutions and public health programs, specifically clean water programs, are both areas that Snyder has struggled with in the past.
After cutting funding for higher education institutions by 15 percent when he first entered office in 2011, Snyder then allocated $61.2 million for higher education last year in attempt to return to the pre-2011 levels. Last year’s funding did not result in these levels, leading Snyder to increase funding again this year. The $1.5 billion plan would collectively bring university funding in the state of Michigan above 2011 levels. However, the funding for the University of Michigan would still remain below 2011 levels.
“We’re making a good investment above inflation and higher ed and bringing them back to levels (after) we had to do some difficult things back in 2011,” The Detroit News reported Snyder said.
Snyder’s plan also calls for increased funding for financial aid and scholarships, bringing funding to a total of $18 million.
Snyder’s proposal to invest $6.8 million into clean drinking water programs comes after he received criticism for his handling of the Flint water crisis. Snyder’s new budget includes $48.8 million dedicated to Flint’s continued recovery efforts.
Snyder’s proposed budget, which will take effect on Oct. 1, 2017 and will run through Sept. 30, 2018, emphasizes an increased funding for infrastructure and high schools in the state, along with funding for higher education and clean water.
Snyder and his administration are positive that the proposed budget will help the state of Michigan thrive while being economically responsible.
“In the same spirit that has brought us this far, we need to continue making smart, responsible investments in critical areas like education, infrastructure, and the professional trades,” Snyder wrote in his press release.