State university system considers cuts in costs

Friday, May 31, 2002

University of Missouri system officials today will consider early retirements and tuition increases as part of cost-cutting measures caused by state budget cuts announced earlier this month by Gov. Bob Holden.

Southeast Missouri State University officials also are considering layoffs and raising tuition. Dr. Ken Dobbins, Southeast president, will outline possible budget-balancing moves in meetings today with the school's Budget Review Committee and Faculty Senate. The Board of Regents is scheduled to consider the measures at its meeting on June 12.

Meanwhile, University of Missouri officials are expected to vote today on measures to trim an additional $41.2 million from operating revenue with just five weeks left in the fiscal year.

The meeting in Jefferson City, Mo., comes in response to Holden's May 10 decision to withhold more than $81 million in state money from higher education in order to balance the state budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Those cuts were the largest portion of more than $230 million in cuts announced by Holden that affect government statewide.

The university system already had absorbed about $43 million in cuts because of the faltering state budget.

Joe Moore, a spokesman for the university system, said Thursday tough choices are necessary in order for the system to operate.

"We were able to make some painful decisions that didn't have that much of a negative impact on our people" in the first round of cuts, Moore said. "This latest round handed down by the governor's office has given the university no choice but to cut into its people."

Under the proposals, about $12 million in savings would be generated by cutting about 400 positions through an early retirement program and layoffs.

Another $10 million would be generated through a student surcharge that would be assessed based on the number of credit hours a student was taking or as a percentage of tuition.

For example, an undergraduate taking 30 credit hours would pay a $270 surcharge while a graduate student with 24 credit hours would pay a $216 surcharge.

In March, the nine-member board voted to raise tuition and other fees 8.4 percent.

Staff writer Mark Bliss contributed to this report.

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