Archived Story

SMC receiving state-funding raise next year

Published 4:53pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Michigan community colleges, including Southwestern Michigan College, will receive a state-funding raise of at least 3 percent in the next academic year.

David Mathews, president of SMC, said the raise comes as good news for the college, but it’s not as good as hoped. SMC is slated to receive the lowest percentage raise in the state at 3.1 percent. The highest funding raise will be given to Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor at 4.6 percent. The concept stemmed from a committee conference that agreed to pay $8.5 million more to the state’s community colleges for a total of $294 million. Michigan Gov. Richard Snyder recommended the raise in state funding providing the colleges meet certain “best practice” requirements.

“That was a misstatement,” Mathews said. “The governor thought one way to distribute the raises was to have it based on certificates or awards a school received; the Senate wanted to use a certain formula. They eventually just decided on 3 percent across the board and judged the exact percentage on that.”

Mathews said the state-funding raise will equate to $6,334,400, which is more than $190,000 more than what SMC received last year. The state also agreed to spend $1.7 million to help pay for employees’ retirement health care costs. However, the state-mandated retirement system that all college employees must enter requires SMC to pay $150,000 back to the state for the retirement program.

“We’ve been fighting for almost a decade to stop the entrance of people into that program,” Mathews said.

Because of the required retirement payment back to the state, Mathews said the real amount increase rests at a little more than $40,000.

“Part of why our raise is the smallest in the state is because the bigger you are, the better you do,” Mathews said. “We’re unhappy with the 3.1 percent, mainly because of the size of our school.”

Though Mathews said he wanted to see a bigger percentage, the raise comes as good news, nonetheless.

“All things considered, it is good news, but not as good as the headlines make it out to be,” Mathews said.

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