It appears that the Michigan state House and Senate have agreed on a budget for FY2012 that will exclude spending on capital improvements for community colleges and universities. Last December, in a last-minute budget gambit, the same body approved planning authorizations for ten university and ten community college projects for FY2011.
Planning authorizations are the first step a university or community college takes in the authorization process for capital outlay projects. Programing documents and schematic plans are prepared by third-party architects and while the completion of these documents does not guarantee that a project will be built, no capital outlay project can proceed without them. Final design and construction is typically authorized in an appropriation bill.
As Michigan’s economy lurches towards recovery these planning, design and construction projects, regardless of size, help with jobs that have a large economic multiplier. One dollar spent on these higher education studies and construction projects means many more dollars of increased economic activity. In short, these are the types of jobs the state of Michigan needs. And the resulting wonderful new campus buildings serve to encourage students to remain in school and pursue good-paying careers.
We are discouraged that, at this point, no capital outlay projects appear imminent. We will wait to see if things change in the final hours of this budget process.