SMC responds to Michigan HB 4401

DOWAGIAC — A new proposed state funding strategy could affect local community colleges.

Last week, the Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee proposed a new formula for funding Michigan’s community colleges. The proposal would shift from a base state appropriation to funding per a three-year average of Fiscal Year Equated Students. In essence, this would transfer state aid primarily to larger and more urban colleges and drastically reduce the appropriations for the rural colleges, including Southwestern Michigan College.

SMC Board Chairman Thomas F. Jerdon offered his analysis.

“When the Michigan community colleges were founded and funded, there was a bipartisan consensus with the wisdom and input of Sen. Harry Gast (who represented three community colleges) that rural colleges with low property tax revenue and smaller enrollments would be helped with additional State aid in order to first, open their doors, and second, to provide access to higher education with affordable tuition.  This proposal would accomplish the exact opposite, with tens of millions of dollars confiscated from smaller colleges to the already well locally-funded large colleges,” he said. “It’s a Robin Hood scenario in reverse: steal from the poor and give to the rich. At best, the two loan sponsors of the House bill are ignorant of these consequences.  At worst, they intend to close some community colleges, and thereafter likely try to cut the funding of the remaining campuses. It’s the worst bill I’ve witnessed in my nearly three-decades in higher education, and it would result in a severe reduction of access for many.”

The impact of this proposal would be devastating for Southwestern Michigan College, Jerdon said. In FY22, the college would lose 14 percent of its state appropriation or $951,400. For FY24, the college would lose 40.9 percent of its state appropriation or $2,858,064.

“We have seen largely flat State aid for SMC since 2001,” said SMC President Joe Odenwald. “HB 4401 is far worse public policy, as it would fundamentally alter the college’s budget structure. At a time when we know that we need to expand access to college and the acquisition of postsecondary credentials to meet a changing economy, this proposal would no doubt result in fewer programs and higher tuition for our students and families. It’s hard to fathom that we’d receive nearly three million dollars a year less when other colleges would net nearly ten million dollars more every year.”

Chairman Jerdon and President Odenwald, along with other college presidents, are actively communicating to elected officials the impact this would have upon SMC and other rural colleges in Michigan.

“I trust the process, and I believe our elected officials will see the light on this matter and do the right thing,” Odenwald said.

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 878,125 cases, 18,710 deaths

Berrien County

County proposes increase in Niles Township deputy force numbers

Dowagiac

SMC to add basketball, volleyball, wrestling for fall 2022

Cass County

Dowagiac man arrested following drug bust

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: May 14-16

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg Village Council passes new maintenance employee wage scale

Cass County

Niles community helps toddler fight leukemia

Cass County

MEC announces 2021 scholarship winners

Berrien County

Click It or Ticket campaign runs through June 6

Berrien County

After 2020 cancellations, southwest Michigan communities look forward to traditional Memorial Day festivities

Business

PHOTO STORY: Inaugural spring market draws visitors, vendors from surrounding areas

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 876,854 cases, 18,627 deaths

Berrien County

Berrien County asks for public input with emergency management survey

Cass County

Man involved in 2020 murder of Dowagiac man pleads guilty

News

PHOTO STORY: Niles Renaissance Faire sees success in its third year

Cassopolis

Cass County Medical Care Facility hosts parade

Berrien County

Buchanan man sentenced to jail time for drug possession

Dowagiac

Kalamazoo man injured in Wayne Township motorcycle crash

Berrien County

UWSM CEO chosen for United Way worldwide task force

Cassopolis

Teen killed in Ontwa Township shooting confirmed to be Cassopolis student

News

Niles Police Log: May 5-12

Cass County

New pavilion project breaks ground in Russom Park

Breaking News

Police investigating fatal shooting of 15-year-old girl

Cass County

New look: Dowagiac District Library welcomes guests with grand opening ceremony