On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the Capital Outlay Bill, giving about $304 million to universities and community colleges across the state for construction and infrastructure projects.
The University will receive $30 million from the state, which, along with $17 million from the University’s funds, will go toward renovating the G. G. Brown Laboratory Building on North Campus.
In addition to this project for the Ann Arbor campus, the University of Michigan-Dearborn will receive $30 million and the University of Michigan-Flint will receive $16.6 million for their respective construction projects.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said these projects have been discussed for several years, but have become tangible with the funding from the bill.
“These are all projects that had been previously approved for planning, and it’s just really great to have the funding come through,” Fitzgerald said.
He added that the capital outlay for universities in the state occurs annually and that the University has been pining for these particular renovations.
“The University of Michigan has taken a conservative approach of not having a long list — a wish list — of projects for state funding,” Fitzgerald said.
Instead, he said the University has been focusing on “a particular project or projects that would be most helpful to have the state involved.”
In total, the state of Michigan and 18 universities and community colleges across the state will be spending $613 million on renovations and construction for higher education with the bill.
State Rep. Eileen Kowall (R–White Lake), the bill’s sponsor, said the bill makes sense for both the short- and long-term future of the state.
“It’s important because, for one thing, it’s immediate jobs in the construction industry, and it’s also jobs for the future,” Kowall said. “We want to have a world class talent pool in Michigan and you have to have facilities … you have to have the infrastructure there.”
Kowall acknowledged that without state funding, the schools’ plans wouldn’t be possible.
“The fact of the matter is that with these projects the universities and community colleges do as much private fundraising as they can, but they can’t do it all themselves,” Kowall said. “By the state helping to fund these projects, it also helps to keep the cost of tuition down.”
LSA senior Rachel Jankowski, the president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said she is pleased with the passing of the bill.
She said that most people, regardless of party affiliation, are pro-education.
“People tend to think (that Republicans) don’t want spending on education, but what we want is a choice for people to be able to pick whatever school it is they want to go to,” Jankowski said. “And we want students to be able go to good schools.”
She added that, as a student, she can see the effects of funding education.
“I’m always happy when education gets more money,” Jankowski said. “Especially (because I’m) going to one of the schools getting $30 million (from the bill).”