Student Senate convened June 6 for an overview of Wayne State’s budget and discussed new resolutions.
Jeff Bolton, assistant vice president of the Office of University Budget, led the meeting with a presentation on WSU’s budget and what it means for the 2019 fiscal year to new Student Senate members.
“We’d like to give you an idea of what our budget is, how much it is, how do we spend it, where does it come from and what sort of restrictions are on it,” Bolton said.
Bolton discussed how Michigan appropriates funds for higher education and the effect it has on tuition rates.
In 2001, two-thirds of WSU’s budget came from the state of Michigan’s appropriations, which are funds designated by lawmakers to aid public universities and subsidize tuition rates. In 2019, the state funded around one-third of the university’s budget, Bolton said.
In 2011 — when the country was recovering from the 2007-2009 recession — Michigan cut 15 percent of its state appropriations for public universities, according to the 2012-2013 state budget. Since 2011, the total funding loss for WSU is $32.1 million, Bolton said.
For 2019, WSU is still $11.8 million short of its pre-2011 state appropriation funds, Bolton said. This means the university has not received the degree of state-level funding since 2011.
“Higher ed has seen some drastic cuts ever since that recession hit,” Bolton said. “Because of these cuts, we depend more and more on tuition and fees to run our university.
“There are a lot of questions at the state level. We don’t know where appropriations will be. It’s a $5 million swing between the governor and the House,” he said.
For the 2020 fiscal year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed a three percent increase to university operations, a sum that would increase WSU’s budget by $6.06 million. However, Michigan’s Republican-led Senate and House have countered with their own proposals of either a 1.4 percent increase or a .6 percent increase, Bolton said.
Bolton said they won’t know where state appropriation numbers will land until late summer or early fall, so WSU is planning around a 0.9 percent budget increase.
When asked why there isn’t an increase in state appropriations, Bolton replied, “Honestly I don’t know; I can’t speak for the legislature. There is a stated goal for Michigan to be one of the top ten states for higher ed funding. We are in the bottom end. We say we want to be top ten, but we are not putting money where our mouth is.”
Resolutions and Reports
During the meeting, the Senate also discussed upcoming resolutions.
A plan to change the Senate’s bylaws and charter to add a graduate student seat to the Senate.
A resolution that would require faculty to provide more information about classes during registration sign up
A plan to conduct a student survey on difficulties with academic counseling
A resolution that would require landlords to provide voter registration forms for tenants when they sign a new lease, which the Senate plans to introduce to the Detroit City Council.
The Student Senate appointed 5 committee positions during Thursday’s meeting.
Kenan Sinan was elected to the Tuition and Fee Appeals Board
Ryane Brown and Basel Berry were elected to the Academic Senate Committees
Kamali Clora and Jasmine Coles were elected to the Student Activities Funding Board
Emelia Moore was elected to the C&IT Academic Unit Review.
Appointments for the University Assessment Council were left for a later date. The next Student Senate meeting will be June 20 at 6 p.m. in Hilberry A/B.
Sean Taormina is a contributing writer for The South End. He can be reached at email@example.com.