The Michigan Legislature’s House and Senate Sub-Appropriation Committees on Higher Education each met Thursday morning to discuss the budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal calendar year.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R) delivered budget recommendations in mid-February. While the Senate committee agreed with the proposed budget in full, the House made several changes.

The budget is still in the committee phase and has yet to be presented to either full chamber. The recommendations of the two chamber’s appropriations committees must be brought before the full Senate and House. If the full chambers disagree on the details, the budget will go before a conference committee to work out the differences between the two versions of the budget.

Dave Murray, Snyder’s deputy press secretary, said the final budget is far from finished and there remains room for compromise.

“Now’s the period where each of the sides come together and we look at what each side wants to do,” Murray said. “We look forward to thoughtful, good discussions with our partners within coming weeks to build a budget.”

Murray said the budget process will hopefully conclude by June, which is one of the governor’s goals for this year.

Under Snyder’s proposal approved by the Senate, the University’s funding increases would align with the rate of inflation and receive a 1.9 percent increase. However, the House passed just half of that proposed budget and under their version, the University would receive a 0.9 percent funding increase.

Rep. Mike McCready (R–West Bloomfield), head of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, said the 1 percent increase instead of a 2 percent increase was directed to the subcommittee by Rep. Al Pscholka (R–Benton Harbor), the chair of the appropriations committee.

“We are assigned targets by the chairman of our appropriations committee,” McCready said. “Our appropriations chairman assigned us a target of 1 percent versus the 2 percent. I don’t know the reason that they have, but sometimes they’re negotiating all of the different budgets, and so they may reduce in one area temporarily to try and get changes in another area.”

Pscholka was unavailable to comment on Monday.

McCready said the appropriations committee has yet to present the proposal to the full House and the details are liable to change.

“There’s still a probability that it’s going to be a 2 percent increase because the Senate and the executive are asking for a 2 percent increase,” McCready said. “We’re going to see how that plays out.”

Complying with the governor’s recommendation, the Senate agreed to a 2.8 percent restraint on tuition fee increases, and the House recommended a higher tuition restraint of 4 percent or an increase of $400 per student depending on which one was greater.

“Originally I had asked to remove the tuition cap and let the market make the corrections,” McCready said. “We are negotiating on that cap, and my recommendation is to go with a 4 percent or $400 tuition cap restraint, whichever was higher, for schools to work with to give them a little bit of room.”

In testimony before the legislature in February, University President Mark Schlissel said the University would appreciate a higher tuition cap.

“We are all committed to try to keep tuition as modest as possible to promote accessibility to public higher education,” Schlissel said in an interview with The Detroit News. “And it’s a balancing (act) to maintain accessibility to quality higher education. We want to have the best faculty and the best facilities. … Having the flexibility beyond what the governor proposed would be welcomed, but we’re not sure yet whether it’s essential to us.”

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