Governor's State of the State address

02-10-2005

I had the pleasure of attending my first state of the state address the other night, sitting on the floor of the House of Representatives, invited by MSU’s local state representative Gretchen Whitmer.

I was encouraged by Governor Granholm’s comments that clearly in my mind correlated the relevancy of higher education with better paying jobs and a vital economy in Michigan.

It was clear that the value of higher education was well recognized, and I felt like the recommendations of the Cherry Commission had been heard.

Though the ways noted to meet goals were met with mixed reviews, I left the other evening feeling persuaded–even optimistic–that the research knowledge and the land-grant spirit of our university and others like us would be supported to join a partnership to move the state’s economic status and sustainability forward.

Today’s news regarding the significant cuts detailed in the executive order for 2004-05 are disappointing and somewhat disheartening to the MSU community. The executive order outlines reductions of approximately $7.5 million dollars–$5 million dollars in the general fund and $2.5 million dollars to the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and Michigan State University Extension if the proposed executive order is approved.

The proposed 2005-06 budget recommendations sustain the executive order reduction of $5 million dollars for the general fund to MSU’s continuing appropriation base. The proposed 2005-06 reduction for MAES and MSUE totals $10 million dollars. Clearly the state is facing some very difficult economic times. But now more than ever we need to work with our elected officials on both sides of the aisle to revive an appreciation for the value of higher education and its land-grant programs.

There was some welcomed news about deferred maintenance money to help improve the infrastructure of college and university campuses. This support is much needed and we hope the Legislature agrees. In sum, a total of $100 million dollars will be allocated to higher education institutions for this purpose in 2004-05 and an additional $100 million dollars in 2005-06. This support may be contingent on other actions taken with respect to tuition expenses.

We knew coming into this year’s budget process that our faculty, staff and students were already doing MORE with fewer financial resources. We have increased the size of our incoming freshmen class, and we’ve increased faculty productivity both in the classroom and in attaining research support. Additionally, we’ve also increased our capacity to practice medicine in our campus clinics and in the broader community and state. During this period of significant state reductions, we continue to work to sustain quality, but there are limits. And long-term support rather than short-term fixes are required.

I assert to you that the economic vitality of our state supercedes any political party affiliation. The need to support Michigan’s universities to generate the research knowledge and unite with other universities to educate a 21st century workforce should not be impeded by partisanship. I also assert to you that the call to action from our governor to double the number of college graduates in our state and create a greater environment of innovation should not be ignored.

We will continue to work together, reinforcing what we know to be true. A brighter future for all of us is dependent upon the appropriate financial support of higher education as we embrace the vision of Michigan becoming a 21st century economic powerhouse.

We will continue to tell our story to the legislative leadership of our state, federal funders and grant-makers, private supporters, donors and other benefactors—whomever we can share our rich on-going history—we will continue to do so.

MSU is special and we will make it through this budget season with our usual resiliency of which you—every one in Team MSU—are the core.

I have to remember, and I encourage you to do the same, that the executive order and recommendations issued today are just the first step in the state’s budget process.

Our governmental relations team is strong and focused to work in a nonpartisan way with our elected officials through this budget process. We will communicate with you on this important issue as details unfold.

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