WMU News

More state funding cuts for higher education expected

Oct. 27, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's Office of Legislative Affairs is back at full force, just in time to deal with the impact of Michigan's looming $898 million deficit and the likelihood of further cuts to WMU's state appropriation.

Gregory J. Rosine, former director of the Michigan Department of Transportation and one-time associate director of the House Fiscal Agency, was named vice president for legislative affairs on Aug. 28 by President Judith I. Bailey. He replaced Jeffrey Breneman, who left WMU in July for a position with Bosch North America in Farmington Hills, Mich.

Melissa Yutzey Bourke was appointed assistant vice president for legislative affairs, effective Oct. 13. Bourke will work on state governmental relations with Rosine and, under his direction, lead the day-to-day federal relations efforts. Bourke, who comes to WMU from a position as finance director of Michigan's Senate Democratic Fund, replaced Charles DeVries, who left the University in August for a position with Automation Alley Technology Center in Troy, Mich.

Rosine brings more than 25 years of experience in state government, working with both sides of the aisle, to his new position. It's experience he says will come in handy as WMU tries to deal with what political observers predict will be another sizeable cut in state appropriations.

"The state's revenue estimating conference was held Oct. 14 in Lansing, and we learned the deficit for the new fiscal year is nearly $900 million," Rosine says. "With a figure like that, it is clear that we will have additional cuts to our state appropriation. The universities and community colleges together account for 22 percent of the state's general fund budget and it's hard to impossible to insulate from budget cuts."

Rosine predicts that Gov. Jennifer Granholm will issue an executive order that will cut public university state appropriations by 5 to 10 percent. State appropriations make up nearly 50 percent of WMU's budget.

"By December, we expect this round of state budget cuts to be completed," he says. "But it appears there are further state budget problems on the horizon for the 2005 fiscal year. This timing is harder for us than for other state agencies, because our students are already here, and they've made their plans, and the University has made its plans for the year as well. We'll have to deal with a cut half way through our budget year."

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

WMU News
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