WMU News

Higher ed funding in play in state budget process

July 3, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- As the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees prepares to meet July 16 and set tuition for the coming year, negotiations focused on how much the state will contribute to the University's operating budget inched closer to resolution in Lansing.

State House and Senate conference committees have met and recommended a higher education budget that would result a WMU appropriation for the coming fiscal year that is about $12.5 million lower than the appropriation in place when the University began the 2002-03 academic year.
However, a number of budget issues were still to be resolved, and WMU Vice President for Legislative Affairs Jeff Breneman said the situation was still in flux.

"Negotiations between the House and Senate leadership and the Granholm administration are continuing and everything is still in play," Breneman said. "At this point there is really no way to predict when this process will be completed."

The conference committees also removed a $10 million increase to WMU's base funding, which had been proposed to fund a Life Sciences Research and Commercialization Center. That center would help retain displaced Pfizer workers in the community. The $10 million, which was to come from a tax incentive for which Pfizer no longer qualifies, was shifted to the budget of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to support the life sciences statewide.

But Kalamazoo area legislators are still working hard to secure the funding for WMU and the Kalamazoo community, Breneman said.

Last week, Gov. Jennifer Granholm traveled to Kalamazoo to assure community leaders that the state backs their efforts to retain the intellectual capital represented by Pfizer scientists. WMU President Judith Bailey and Provost Daniel M. Litynski were among local leaders who met privately with the governor during her visit.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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