Michigan's public universities have struggled from waning state funding over the past 30 years. Where this source of funding used to represent 65% of U of M's funds, it now is less than 20%. In order to accommodate this burden, universities have had to drastically increase their cost of tuition. This has harmed Michigan families and has contributed to the growing problem of student debt in the workforce.
At a certain point, the state out to take responsibility for its public universities and foot the bill. This is difficult, however, given Michigan's declining manufacturing base and tax revenue. State priorities have had to be shifted and as has been seen throughout the caucus, there are a multitude of funding priorities that the state has had to address.
One possible solution for funding public universities would be to tie its funding to a specific tax. Unlike in many states, Michigan apportions its public universities from the state general fund. This means that unike k-12 education which is tied to the income tax and others, secondary education has no automatic funding. This forces universities to lobby the state for money every year. Having a set, balanced amount could help schools with budgeting and setting tuition earlier. It would also incentivize the amount to be higher.
Another solution is to increase the budget outright. As the funding for secondary education has gone down, funding for prisons has increased significantly. The caucus has repeatedly discussed legalizing marijuana and eliminating private prisons. Both of these solutions could free up incarceration costs and leave extra money to go to public universities.
Although it is late in the semester and mandatory posting has ended, I am still curious to get opinions from the caucus on this issue.
My questions for the caucus are:
Is this a problem worth addressing?
Is solution 1 appropriate?
Is solution 2 appropriate?
Are there any other potential solutions to the problem?
Some links to view are:
http://www.michiganinbrief.org/edition07/Chapter5/HigherEd.htm http://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2016/07/07/michigan-spending-schools-corrections/86795772/ http://www.collegetuitioncompare.com/compare/tables/?state=MI