Millions for MSU Tied Up in Funding Battle

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Millions of dollars in funds for Michigan State University are tied up in a legislative dispute. Republicans in the State Senate say they're holding on to $18 million until MSU trustees pass a resolution attesting to the control legislators have over their spending projects.

"There's a law. And it should be followed," State Sen. Alan Cropsey said in an interview at his Olive Township home Sunday.

That's the basic position of Cropsey (R - DeWitt) and other Senate Republicans. The law he's referring to requires any spending project valued at $1 million or more to be approved by the state legislature. That law hasn't always been followed.

"There was an Auditor General's report in 2004 that showed dozens and dozens of projects not in compliance," Cropsey said.

That is to say, universities spent the money without getting the required okay from legislators. Now, Republicans have given the schools an ultimatum: The boards in control must pass a resolution recognizing the law. And the resolution must say the public colleges and universities will follow that law.

"Hopefully trying to control the spending in univeristies as we are everywhere in state government," Cropsey said.

But if there's already a law -- why make colleges take the extra step of saying that they know about it?

"This is state taxpayer dollars being used in part. We want to make sure it's being used in a proper way," Cropsey said.

The 18 million dollars in question is slated for more student housing at Michigan State. Senate Republicans say the university could move forward with the plan easily.

"It's within the power of the university to get the money. All they have to do is apass a resolution saying we understand the process, we're going to abide by the process," Cropsey said.

So far, the university doesn't appear ready to do that.

"They say they're following the law except for passing the resolution," Cropsey said.

But until they do, senate leaders say the money stays put.

"These are the elected officials. For them to know the law, I think, is important," Cropsey said.

Only three colleges in the state haven't passed the resolution: Michigan State, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University.

We called Michigan State's head of government relations -- our call wasn't returned. A spokesman for State Senate Democrats didn't respond to our request for comment.

-- in Olive Township, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.