GVSU and other state university presidents lobby against income tax reduction

Feb 22, 2017

Credit Phillip Hofmeister via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0 / wikimedia.org

University presidents from across the state, including Grand Valley State University, are lobbying against the income tax cut plan.

The leaders of Michigan's 15 public universities are lobbying against an income tax cut they worry would lead to state funding cuts.

While the House has altered the income tax cut and roll back bill. The legislation would now cut the tax down to 3.9 percent by 2021 and then go no further.

That plan still does not sit well with a number of the state’s higher education presidents. They stood outside the House chamber Tuesday, pressing lawmakers to oppose the legislation that cleared a committee last week.

Representing Grand Valley State University is Matt McLogan, Vice President for University Relations. He explains the concern is the income tax reduction if approved will reduce the general fund budget by $1 billion annually.

“The general fund keeps getting smaller while other state revenue items tend to grow a little bit, the general fund has been quite flat. Yet, the general fund is the only part of the state’s budget where there is any discretion. Having said that, the general fund budget includes Medicare and Medicaid, it includes the corrections budget, state police, all the departmental budgets for operating state government; the Attorney General, the legislature, DNR, DEQ and the universities. All of those things are in the general fund, but they are hardly discretionary. Corrections is not discretionary, running the government is not discretionary, but over the last 25 or 30 years higher education has become discretionary at least to the extent to which it is a priority in the general fund. That’s the concern university presidents expressed and they hope they were heard.”

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said families already are struggling to afford college, and "we don't want to make those challenges greater."

McLogan and others involved in the discussion are asking lawmakers not to be hasty but rather look at all the facts to make sure the theories presented will actually work and benefit the state.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.