Gov. Rick Snyder presented his proposed budget, which includes major cuts to public schools and universities, to lawmakers on Thursday, Feb. 17.
Snyder’s $45 billion budget includes $1.2 billion in spending cuts to help with the current $1.4 billion deficit. The cuts would include before-and after-school programs, personal tax breaks and hundreds of state jobs and it would ask public employees for benefit or wage concessions.
In the budget, Snyder suggests cutting funding to public universities by 15 percent. Snyder would set aside $1.4 billion for universities and also create a fund of $83 million to be shared between all the public universities if they keep tuition increases to 7 percent or less. No funding will be cut to community colleges.
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Les Wong, NMU president, held a university forum where he discussed what would happen to NMU if Snyder’s budget were passed.
The proposed budget cuts to universities is said to be 15 percent, but for NMU the number will be more around 19.7 percent, Wong said. NMU will lose approximately $6.77 million.
“The same amount of money that NMU will lose is the same amount of money that it costs to pay the snow plowing companies for 10 years,” Wong said. “Can you imagine not having any plowing for 10 years up here?”
Wong stated a list of things that will have to change at NMU if Snyder’s budget passes. Systematic changes along with changes to work assignments are just two of the things that will have to change.
One change that will be discussed this summer will be tuition. Usually, in order to supplement the cut in funding, tuition is increased. Because of the incentive to keep tuition down, the Board of Trustees will have a major discussion at the meeting in July.
Derek Anderson, assistant professor for NMU’s department of education, said he believes that this will have a drastic effect on NMU. The students in the education majors go to local schools to have field experiences and intern. If the budget were approved, it would limit the amount of students allowed to go to the K-12 schools.
“Faculty will likely have to do without the resources we have now, such as letting students go to the local school,” Anderson said.
Another point that Anderson had was that, because of the decrease in funding to NMU and other universities, there may have to be a tuition increase to help make up what the budget has cut.
While the budget has not been approved yet, Anderson said he believes that because both Michigan’s House of Representatives and Senate have a Republican majority, it is likely that the budget will pass.
“It’s safe to say that we’re going to see some bigger cuts under this government,” Anderson said. “It’s pretty obvious that we’re going to feel some hurt coming up.”
Melissa Benner, a senior elementary mathematics education major, said she thinks that the budget cuts that have been proposed to schools and universities are going to put more strain on NMU.
“As a future educator who is studying at NMU, I truly believe that there should be more funding for schools because through proper education we build better citizens that will be building our economy in the future,” Benner said.
Benner has been in and out of the area public school on a regular basis and has found that that program is unique.
“I would hate to see some of the perks we take for granted to be pushed aside in order to meet the budget proposed by Snyder,” Benner said.
Snyder would like lawmakers to approve his budget by May 31, 2011 and hopefully will have the Senate and House of Representatives reviews done by June 1, 2011. The plan would start on Oct. 1, 2011.