State funding increase good news for Tech

HOUGHTON – Gov. Rick Snyder presented his proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year Wednesday, and it includes a 6 percent increase in funding for the 15 Michigan public universities, which makes Glenn Mroz happy.

“I think it’s great,” said Mroz, who is president of Michigan Technological University.

Mroz said state university officials have been talking to the governor for quite a while about increasing funding to higher education in Michigan, which is a part of reinvesting in the state.

“We got a lot of support for (increasing higher education funding) from business leaders,” he said.

Mroz said he thinks the governor and the members of the Legislature heard that message.

He expects the members of the Legislature will provide some increase to higher education. The fiscal year starts Oct. 1, so they have many months to debate what size of an increase public universities should get.

“If it’s not what he says (the increase should be), they better have a good reason,” he said.

If approved, the proposed increase for public university funding would be the third consecutive raise after four consecutive years of cuts.

In 2003, Mroz said Tech received $54.3 million in state funding. In Snyder’s first budget as governor in 2011, the amount was $40 million. If the 6 percent increase is approved, the university would get $45 million for next year.

Mroz said he thinks business leaders are impressed with Tech students, because the number of business representatives at the university’s Career Fair grows every year, despite its remote location.

“We’re not on the way to a lot of places,” he said.

Mroz said there are about 236,000 students in the 15 Michigan public universities, so an increase in funding will benefit them.

“That’s a lot of families in the state that are impacted,” he said.

Although he doesn’t know if the state funding for Tech will ever get back to the high of $54.3 million, Mroz said he does appreciate Snyder’s proposed funding increase for public universities.

“It’s nice to see the governor give higher education priority,” he said