The University of Michigan could lose its share of $40M if local lawmakers have their way. The dispute, which began over reporting of embryonic stem cell research, has turned into a fight over legislating policy through funding.
A few weeks ago, state legislators created a formula to determine the amount of state funding it would receive. In addition to stipulations regarding graduation rate, tuition, and other metrics, it included provisions targeting specific social issues. Specifically, a state's funding could be diminished if they do not report the number of embryonic stem cells used, if they mandate health insurance for students, or if they promote organizations that protest local businesses.
U-M's stem cell program responded with 50-pages of details about the program, but the papers did not include the specific numbers the legislators asked for in the formula. State democrats feel the additional requirements use funding to punish social programs that are disagreeable to the republican majority, which claims they simply want to evaluate the use of state funds for certain programs. The university claims that the raw data the state requested is too complicated to be accurately interpreted and that the materials provided should be sufficient.
University President Mary Sue Coleman has taken a stand against the requirements, saying the stem cell program is in strict accordance to the federal government's requirements. A 2008 ballot measure allowed the state University to launch their embryonic stem cell program.
While some think the measures are punitive, Republicans say that no university will lose the funding they had from last year if they choose not to comply with new standards, but could lose between .09% and 7.4% depending on which standards are met.
The other provisions target Michigan State University, which will automatically enroll students in heath insurance and add the cost to their tuition unless they opt out. Republicans say this added cost could be prohibitive for some students to pay and could result in students deciding against attending the university.
Learn more about stem cell funding at the Stem Cells USA and Regenerative Medicine Congress!