Program: Community college operations

Appropriation:

All from GF/GP:

$315,504,216

Total:

$315,504,216[2]

Program Description:

This appropriation funds the operational costs of Michigan’s community colleges.  Michigan’s 28 community colleges provide the following: (1) low-cost courses for students planning to obtain a bachelor’s degree, (2) courses for those who wish to have special kinds of technical skills in business, industry or other fields, and (3) programs to serve the direct educational needs of the community where the college resides.  Fewer than 200,000 students are currently enrolled full-time in community colleges throughout the state, a 3.4 percent drop since the 1984-1985 school year.[3]

For the fiscal year 2002-03, individual community college appropriations totaled $315,504,216.  The specific appropriations according to Act 161 of 2002 are:

Alpena Community College

$5,311,973

Bay De Noc Community College

$5,129,944

Delta College

$14,813,864

Glen Oaks Community College

$2,485,512

Gogebic Community College

$4,365,123

Grand Rapids Community College

$18,633,380

Henry Ford Community College

$22,708,494

Jackson Community College

$12,570,441

Kalamazoo Valley Community College

$12,825,971

Kellogg Community College

$10,076,975

Kirtland Community College

$3,058,415

Lake Michigan College

$5,423,461

Lansing Community College

$32,223,042

Macomb Community College

$34,381,003

Mid Michigan Community College

$4,586,420

Monroe County Community College

$4,462,223

Montcalm County Community College

$3,227,530

C.S. Mott Community College

$16,291,459

Muskegon Community College

$9,271,134

North Central Michigan College

$3,140,212

Northwestern Michigan College

$9,460,166

Oakland Community College

$21,687,988

St. Clair County Community College

$7,264,610

Schoolcraft College

$12,728,740

Southwestern Michigan College

$6,832,843

Washtenaw Community College

$12,937,228

Wayne County Community College

$17,223,721

West Shore Community College

$2,382,344

Recommended Action:

While public support for higher education might be better accomplished by converting from direct funding to a system of tuition vouchers or tax credits, such a plan may not be politically feasible at this moment.[4]  But it would give institutions of higher learning a stronger incentive to contain costs and to make sure that as many resources as possible are dedicated to serving students’ educational needs.  There are, however, some immediate steps that the Michigan Legislature should take to deal with escalating costs.

During tough economic times there is no legitimate reason to exempt community colleges from the same budget discipline that families and state bureaucracies must face — especially since fewer full-time students attend community colleges than in 1984.

The Mackinac for Public Policy recommends using fiscal year 1985 as a base year and indexing future higher education spending to enrollment plus inflation.  It is in this year that spending on higher education begins to increase most dramatically.  Doing this would mean spending only $263,500,124 on community colleges in fiscal year 2004, $52 million less than in the previous year.  If lawmakers do not judge such a proposal to be politically advantageous, however, spending could be rolled back by half of this amount for the time being, or $26 million in fiscal year 2004.  The cuts could be distributed to universities in proportion to the size of their current appropriations.  The cuts could be distributed to universities in proportion to the size of their current appropriations.  In future fiscal years, the Legislature should continue a spending rollback until universities are receiving an amount equal to 1985 fiscal year dollars plus inflation and enrollment.

Proponents of dramatic spending increases may argue that a simple analysis based on enrollment and inflation ignores such factors as the cyclical nature of enrollment, the impact of increased program demands, and the increased costs of technology.   While these factors affect funding needs, it is interesting that they always seem to drive overall costs upward.  Where are the savings from better technology in college operations and administration?  Why must funding increase when enrollment declines?  Legislators and citizens should place a high burden of proof on community colleges to justify demands for increased funding.  Savings: $26,002,046.