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University budget chair calls for higher ed security fund

Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio

The chair of the state House higher education budget subcommittee called Thursday for a permanent fund to help colleges and universities upgrade and maintain campus security systems.

Representative Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills) presided over a budget hearing with campus security chiefs. She said colleges and universities are in a tough position — having to balance students’ education needs and the growing costs of ensuring their safety.

“That is why for me personally it is imperative that we create a new bucket, a new line item for public safety funds,” Steckloff said during the meeting of the House Appropriations Higher Education and Community Colleges Subcommittee.

She said the February 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University showed schools need more help.

Public safety chiefs from MSU, Central Michigan University, and the University of Michigan-Flint appeared before the committee.

Ray Hall is the police chief for the UM-Flint. He said schools want to be open and accessible, but students, faculty and visitors also need to be safe and feel safe.

“Making a decision over: do we put new cameras up in a hallway or do we hire a new faculty member? That’s a tough, that’s a tough balancing act for any institution, so ongoing sustainability is something we certainly would be an advocate of,” he said.

Steckloff told Bridge Michigan this week that she’d like a state public safety fund that stands at $100 million. She did not identify a funding source. The idea would have to be approved by the Legislature as part of the new state budget and signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.