WMU News

WMU officials respond to governor's budget proposals

March 6, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm today presented her state budget proposal for fiscal year 2003-04. The governor's proposal includes a proposed 6.5 percent budget reduction to Michigan's public universities as part of measures to address a severe shortfall in projected revenues to the state. If approved by the Legislature, the governor's proposed cuts would result in an additional reduction of nearly $8.2 million to the Western Michigan University budget, bringing the total loss as a result of cuts enacted since December to over $12.5 million, or 10 percent or the University's annual state appropriation.

"Today's release of Gov. Granholm's budget proposal has provided some insight into her priorities and the financial difficulties we face in Michigan," said WMU Interim President Daniel M. Litynski in response to the news. "We appreciate the governor's creative approaches to trying to support Michigan's public universities in these challenging times. Nevertheless, the magnitude of the reductions are significant, and the impact will be felt by our students, their families and the communities we serve."

Litynski went on to note, "Over the past several years, the University has implemented a series of internal cost reductions in order to maintain high quality while keeping operating costs as low as possible. Further reductions at such a large scale become more difficult because we are already a lean organization. In anticipation of these state appropriation cuts, all University spending is currently under review and a hiring freeze is already in place. As the legislative process continues, the University will continue to review all cost-cutting and restructuring options. Our goal is to maintain the quality of our programs and try to minimize the impact on our students and families. The magnitude of these reductions makes that extremely challenging."

"We are prepared to shoulder our fair share of state budget reductions," said Jeff Breneman, vice president for legislative affairs, "but because of our record growth, these proposed cuts would set WMU back to 1994-95 levels of state support per student. We look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature in the weeks and months ahead to address the state's budget crisis and to develop a road map for the future funding of Michigan's public universities."

Media contact: Matt Kurz, 269 387-8400, matt.kurz@wmich.edu

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