WMU News

House supports extra funds for WMU aviation

June 18, 1998

LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan state House of Representatives June 10 approved a 4.4 percent increase in state funds for Western Michigan University that includes an additional $450,000 for the School of Aviation Sciences.

The increase for the aviation program came after WMU President Diether Haenicke and State Rep. Mark Schauer of Battle Creek appealed to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education for additional funds for the program.

State Reps. A.T. Frank, Don Gilmer, and Glen Oxender, all WMU alumni, proposed an amendment to the House Appropriations Committee recommendation for the increase. WMU had sought $912,000 in additional funds to help operate the School of Aviation Sciences, which is located in Battle Creek.

Haenicke told lawmakers May 20 that WMU had built a "Cadillac of an aviation program" with federal and community support totaling more than $22 million. "Now we need gas in the tank to drive it."

The House approved a 4 percent increase in base funding for the state's 15 public universities, up from the proposed 1.5 percent increase in the executive budget and a 3 percent increase approved by the Senate. Both House and Senate action included special subsidies for six of the state's 10 master's level institutions.

The House version, including the funds for aviation, would give WMU $112.7 million in state appropriations for 1998-99, an increase of nearly $4.8 million over last year's appropriated amount of $107.9 million.

"We're pleased that the House is raising the base for higher education and we're grateful to Mark Schauer and Don Gilmer for their leadership in helping WMU to secure a portion of the funds needed for operations at our world-class School of Aviation Sciences," said Keith A. Pretty, vice president for external affairs and general counsel.

"However," Pretty continued, "the process is not over. We hope when the conference committee meets later this month that additional funding for our aviation operations will be considered again."

Representatives of the House and Senate must meet to resolve differences between the two versions of 1998-99 higher education appropriations legislation. The House version provides for a $1.6 billion higher education budget for the state fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Media contact: Mike Matthews, 616 387-8400, michael.matthews@wmich.edu

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