Funding cuts for Southeast remain at 10 percent level

Friday, March 8, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Proposed 10 percent funding cuts remain in place for four-year public universities after the first round of the state budget process.

The House appropriations committee handling spending for the Department of Higher Education on Thursday chose to endorse Gov. Bob Holden's budget recommendations for such institutions after a brief discussion.

Holden recommended $45.3 million in state money for Southeast Missouri State University for fiscal year 2003, which begins July 1. That would mark a $5 million drop from what the General Assembly earmarked for the university for the current fiscal year, but only about a $520,000 actual funding reduction following midyear cuts the governor ordered to help balance the present budget. Southeast had requested $55 million for the current fiscal year.

Many steps left

However, many steps are left before the state budget is finalized. Southeast and other schools still could be hit with deeper reductions.

State Rep. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said the House Budget Committee -- the next stop for the higher education appropriations measure -- will likely leave four-year institutions alone.

During recent budget hearings, university president Dr. Ken Dobbins and officials with other public institutions asked the committee to consider cuts of only 5 percent, banking on an improved economy in the coming months and, therefore, improved state revenue.

The only change for four-year institutions, for which the governor recommended nearly $730 million combined, was to eliminate the $120,000 annual salary of one assistant chancellor in the University of Missouri system.

Four-year schools claim the bulk of the Department of Higher Education's $1.08 billion proposed budget, which the appropriations committee has yet to finalize.

The biggest committee fight came over a proposal to eliminate the entire $1.1 million budget of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which oversees the department. However, a compromise was reached under which the board's budget for staff and other expenses would be reduced by about 20 percent, or $222,000.

The bill is HB 1103.

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