October 2019
Unprecedented budget process nets disappointing results for higher education

While it’s true that the State of Michigan adopted a balanced budget and avoided a rumored government shutdown on September 30, the FY 2019-20 budget deliberations have been anything but typical. 

The process has left political veterans and the overall citizenry wondering what happened and what happens next. The budgets funding government were signed by Governor Whitmer, however, also included was an unprecedented number of line item vetoes. In addition, the shifting of more than $620 million in inter-department transfers occurred via approval of the State Administrative Board—a move that is certainly within the Governor’s power, but that has not been utilized since the Engler era. After the Governor afforded legislators a day or two to absorb the initial shock and awe of the impact of the vetoes and transfers, she almost immediately began outreach efforts and messaging about the need for relationship building among leadership.  

Legislative leaders have responded to the budget developments by introducing supplemental appropriations bills to restore specific vetoed items. Similar to the legislation originally passed by the Legislature, however, the supplemental appropriations don’t reflect an agreement between the Executive and Legislature branches, leaving many in Lansing wondering about next steps. 
 
Fortunately, funding for Michigan’s 15 public universities was not affected by the unprecedented process to finalize the budget, and institutions are now able to officially implement their internal budgets and tuition policies. The only veto in the higher education budget was for scholarships provided to students attending private higher education institutions—Michigan Tuition Grants. 

Overall, public institutions of higher education received an operations increase of .5%.

"This level of state investment in our students is disappointing," said Jeff Breneman , VP of Government Relations. "We are in good economic times in the state of Michigan, yet WMU still receives less from the state than we did 15 years ago. If we aren't investing in higher education during good economic times, what can we expect during an economic downturn? This is a call to action for the Bronco Advocacy Network. The governor and your state legislators must hear from you--parents, family, students, and alumni--that investing in higher education, and WMU specifically, is one of your top priorities as a voter."
PFAS round table brings U.S. senator to campus

U.S. Senator Gary Peters joined campus and community members Oct. 9 for a round table discussion about PFAS contamination and its impact on local drinking water sources at WMU's Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education. The senator also toured the repository--the most comprehensive collection of geological samples and data in Michigan.

Dr. Matt Reeves , a WMU associate professor of hydrogeology, started the discussion with a brief overview of his research related to fluorochemicals and efforts underway to remediate extremely high levels of PFAS substances discovered in 2018 in the City of Parchment's drinking water. WMU's VP of Research and Innovation-- Dr. Terri Kinzy --facilitated the discussion.

Steve Sliver , director for Michigan's PFAS Action Response Team, Parchment Mayor Rob Britigan, two Parchment residents, and WMU graduate student Madison Wayt, were among the participants who urged the senator to advocate for federal support to deal with the issue. Participants asked the senator to advocate for the development of federal policies that would hold companies responsible for contamination clean up and for funding to help impacted communities restore a safe supply of drinking water.

Prior to the round table discussion, President Edward Montgomery and the senator had a short meeting to discuss the senator's initiative to establish a National Institute of Manufacturing. The institute would serve as a hub for federal manufacturing programs in the executive branch. WMU alumni Tristan Brown ('05) serves as Peters' legislative counsel and is leading the effort to launch the institute.
WMU receives over $1.5M during Giving Day

Donors to WMU from as far as Australia and from 46 states came together on WMU's third Giving Day to raise $1,555,471. The Universitywide effort was led by the WMU Alumni Association, which was recently re-instated by the school's Office of University Advancement.

"People are talking about WMU, and on Giving Day especially, they were talking about giving to WMU," said Vice President for University Advancement Kristen DeVries. "Giving is just the tool. It's the impact that we care about. Giving magnifies our ability to transform the lives of our students so they can transform the communities where they live, all around the globe."

The one-day giving campaign surpassed last year's efforts by more than 391% and is helping the University refocus its fundraising strategy.

Government Relations Associate Vice President Kara Wood on her 3rd day on the job, along with Vice President Jeff Breneman , attended the WMU Giving Day Party held at The Knickerbocker in Grand Rapids. Read more at WMU News .
Bronco in the Legislature

Rep. Sarah Anthony graduated from WMU in 2012 with a master's degree in public administration. She is serving her first full term representing the 68th House District, which includes part of the City of Lansing and Lansing Township.

Anthony was born and raised in Lansing and graduated from Everett High School. Her political career was launched in 2012, when she was elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners--the youngest African American to serve in this capacity in the United States. She currently serves as the Democratic Caucus Chair for the 2019-20 session.

Reflecting back on her Bronco days, Anthony said her most cherished memories are related to WMU professors.

"As nerdy as it may sound, I really enjoyed engaging with my professors, who were always willing to lend their expertise and experience with a young professional like me," Anthony said. "I was able to glean real world knowledge in my field, which helped development my managerial and managerial skills."
Gear up for November 5 election

Learn where candidates running for office in your community stand on the issues and what you can expect to see on YOUR ballot via non-partisan voter guides produced by the League of Women Voters. Get personalized ballot and poll information for the November 5 election with a simple search by address on the League’s Vote411 website .
UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Saturday, Oct. 12--HOMECOMING--WMU Bronco Football vs Miami, Kickoff at noon. Waldo Stadium. Visit WMU Athletics for all Bronco sport schedules.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 5--Election Day
Join us at the Homecoming Football game tomorrow!

Stop by the

Corporate, Government and Community Partnership Tailgate
10-11:45 a.m.

in the northeast corner of Lot 10.

The Western Michigan University Office of Government Relations will ethically 
operate with transparency, civility, bipartisanship and inclusivity to support public 
higher education. Our team advocates for policies and partnerships 
benefiting the students, faculty, staff and the communities we serve.