UM Regents OK Budget Letter to State

At their Nov. 17, 2011 meeting, University of Michigan regents discussed then approved the university’s annual letter to the state budget director, John Nixon, outlining the 2013 budget needs of the Ann Arbor campus. [link to .pdf of budget development letter] The 12-page letter, officially from UM president Mary Sue Coleman, makes the case that UM needs state support, noting that the Ann Arbor campus receives 30% less in state funding than it did a decade ago. It also provides details of UM’s cost containment efforts and impact on the regional economy.

This year, the state asked universities to provide suggestions for “formula funding” – a mechanism that’s being considered as a way to standardize appropriations for higher education. Regent Martin Taylor advocated for revisions to the letter that would explicitly state UM’s opposition to this kind of approach to funding, along with the suggestions for how to implement it. Other regents agreed. After discussion with university administrators – including provost Phil Hanlon and Cynthia Wilbanks, vice president for government relations – the board unanimously approved the letter, with the understanding that it will be revised to include a statement opposing formula funding.

Attached to the letter is a copy of the university’s $1.587 billion FY 2012 general fund budget, which the regents approved in June 2011. The budget is based on the assumption that UM will receive $268.8 million in state appropriations for the fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012. That amount represents a $47.5 million cut in UM’s state appropriation – a decline of 15% compared to FY 2011, and the lowest amount of state aid received since FY 1964, when adjusted for inflation. The budget included a 6.7% increase in tuition and fees for most in-state first- and second-year undergraduates at the Ann Arbor campus, for a total of $12,634 per year ($6,317 per term).

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the Fleming administration building on the UM campus in Ann Arbor. A more detailed report will follow: [link]