Univ. of Michigan circumvents Governor Snyder’s attempts to balance budget

By Jerome S. Kaufman
June 21, 2011

The University of MIchigan Board of Regents easily circumvented newly elected Governor Snyder’s attempt to lower expenditures, balance the state budget, lower taxes, encourage education, make the state more business friendly, encourage the economy and stop the flight of Michigan citizens and corporations from the state.

“Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposed budget — which was sent to his desk on June 7 for a signature after receiving approval from both the state House and Senate — is expected to be signed into law within the next week. The proposed budget includes a 15-percent cut in funding for higher education, and once signed, the University will experience an approximate $47 million dollar cut for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which begins July 1 — a sizable cut that reduces the University to the level of funding they received in 1964.” (Sarah Alsaden, Daily News Editor, June 19, 2011)

The Regent’s ploy of circumvention was simple. The University of Michigan Board of Regents voted Thursday to increase in-state tuition 6.7%. The increase will raise $46.4 million and nearly match the amount of state aid the university will lose this year under a state budget plan.

The board approved the budget by a 6-2 vote. Regents Chairwoman Denise Ilitch and board member Laurence Deitch voted against it. Ilitch voiced strong objections, saying rising tuition costs were limiting the opportunity for middle and lower-class students. She suggested the university consider deeper cuts in academic areas, instead of raising tuition so much. The increase will cost a freshman Literature, Science and Arts student an additional $797 a year, university officials said. That will increase the annual rate to $12,634.

Excuse me, but is this not, in fact, a form of tax increase laid upon Michigan citizens and exactly what the governor had planned not to do? Furthermore, the University is to add to the budget problems and continue to fail to address excessive spending. It is in the process of hiring 150 new faculty members after hiring more than 40 new professors last year!

Also of financial note is the fact that University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman is now the 6th highest paid university president in the US with salary, as of January, 2010 of $783,850. In addition, the Board of Regents just granted her a 3% raise of $23,516 – not too shabby, especially in an institution supposedly attempting to balance its budget.

Somehow, the whole procedure reminds me of my former country club. Every year the Board meeting would discuss how much money was lost when we hosted events using our staff and dining room. What did the Club directors do to remedy the situation? Well, first we increased the mortgage on the property, then we enlarged the dining room and staff so we could lose still more money in the operation!

Eventually, the club was sold to private entrepreneurs, at bargain rates, hoping to get out of the downward spiral and allow the club to survive. Members had had enough of simply “raising the tuition.” since they were the ones paying the tuition! Is there any doubt similar involvements of private enterprise and dismissal of collusive boards might do the same for many of our institutions surviving primarily because of taxpayer funds?

Jerome S. Kaufman,
Editor, Israel Commentary

Note: Much of the statistical information was obtained from an article by David Jesse, Free Press Education writer, June 17, 2011



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