Good economic news

05-20-2005

MSU got some good news yesterday.

Gary Olsen, director of the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency (SFA), announced a slightly-better-than-expected economic outlook for the State of Michigan. Some $16.5 million of the $30 million cut from the appropriation to Michigan’s universities and community colleges will be restored, with the possibility of returning additional funding if the state budget ends the fiscal year in the black.

As a practical matter, Michigan State will get back nearly $2.8 million of $5 million that had been cut from our budget this year. That’s a welcome change, but it’s more in the nature of a tax refund than an increase in base salary, to use a metaphor that is more understandable. It will let us do some things we need to do, but it doesn’t address a longer-term and more problematic issue.

While MSU certainly can use the funds to address a range of pressing needs (like deferred maintenance), we still face a declining state appropriation and an ongoing trend of public disinvestment in public higher education.

I’m hopeful that when the Michigan House of Representatives announces its new funding formula for Michigan’s universities next week, we’ll get more good news. I look forward to keeping you posted.

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