Nixon veto halts funding for Southeast university's business incubator

Saturday, June 27, 2009

When Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed $105 million in spending in the state budget Thursday, he halted funding to a business project at Southeast Missouri State University.

His actions also vetoed or delayed about $107 million in stimulus funding to capital improvement projects at state universities. The vetoes included $16.5 million in money for University of Missouri agricultural research centers around the state.

Southeast's business incubator, which was to receive $4.5 million, was also removed from the state's $23 billion operating budget. In his veto letter, Nixon cited declining revenue for the action.

"I wouldn't say this is surprise," said Dr. Gerald McDougall, dean of the College of Business. "It's disappointing, and we understand the situation."

The project was also shelved in January when Nixon suspended construction projects funded by payments from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.

He said the university is looking for other funding options, including a possible voter-approved bond issue for projects in Missouri.

"There might be some alternatives that come about in the future, and we'll be ready to take advantage of those," said McDougall, who is also serving as the interim vice president for university advancement and director of the university foundation.

Earlier this month Nixon wrote a letter to lawmakers expressing interest in issuing bonds for state construction projects. He said he wanted to take advantage of financing methods enacted by Congress.

Members of the state House of Representatives rallied behind the same reasons earlier this year when they passed a measure asking voters to authorize $700 million in bonds for university construction. The issue ultimately failed in the Senate and was opposed by Sen. Jason Crowell, a Republican from Cape Girardeau, saying it would not stimulate the economy as intended.

Southeast had planned to use $37 million to start the business incubator and build and renovate science facilities if the bond issue passed.

Thursday, Nixon delayed but did not veto $91.3 million for other college projects, including a $31.2 million cancer hospital for the University of Missouri. Multimillion-dollar projects at Truman State University and Missouri State University were also delayed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

abusch@semissourian.com

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