University officials have their fingers crossed.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to announce today a proposed budget for fiscal year 2007 that would boost higher education funding by about $30 million, or 2 percent.
If Granholm makes the proposal and the Legislature approves, it will mark the first time during the tenure of University President Mary Sue Coleman that state funding to the University has increased.
When Coleman became president in 2002, the state’s allocation to the University was $363.6 million, down 1.6 percent from the previous year. Since then, the state has slashed the University’s allocation three years straight. Last year, it fell to $316.3 million, $50 million less than it had been only four years before.
Coleman told the LSA Student Government in a meeting last month that she considers the budget cuts a detriment to the state as well as to the University.
“The days where people didn’t need to worry about higher education to get a job are over,” Coleman said. “Even in the car industry, it’s over.”
If the state keeps cutting funding for higher education, the state’s most talented students will go elsewhere, Coleman said.
“I will keep arguing for the University, because I honestly believe there’s no better way the state can invest their money than in higher education,” she said.
While the possibility of an increase has enthused administrators, they remain concerned about the accuracy of the reports about the increase, said Cynthia Wilbanks, University vice president for government relations.
“People are optimistic, but we have to be pretty cautious about these things,” Wilbanks said.
A spokesman for Granholm said he could not comment on the content of the budget until it is officially released tomorrow.
University administration first heard the rumor from the Gongwer Michigan Report a daily newsletter covering Michigan state government and politics, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.
Gongwer reported recently that Granholm has dropped hints about a possible increase to the state’s higher education budget.
The article also contained details about the budget increases, which the reporter received from an anonymous source.