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Higher Ed Budget Unchanged

February 21, 1996
By: Cristina Gomez
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's recommendation for one of the largest budget increases for MU in recent years has cleared the House Education Appropriations Committee.

The committee formally presented its recommendations to the House Budget Committee this week. The Budget Committee is expected to take up within the next two weeks the budget bills for the 1997 fiscal year that begins July 1.

The governor's package of recommendations for the higher education budget were scarcely modified by the House Education Appropriations Committee.

"We have made very little changes from the governor's recommendations because they were so adequate," said Rep. Dick Franklin, D-Independence, chairman of the Education Appropriations Committee. "We feel real good about the budget this year."

The committee approved the governor's recommendation, down to the nickel, for a 7.2% in the general operating budget for the University System - or $350.6 million.

That would be one of the University's largest increases in recent years. Last year, the legislature approved 4.8% increase.

"This has been a good year for Missouri and we have appropriated a lot for education," Franklin said, explaining why the committee agreed with governor's recommendations.

The committee also approved two one-time budget recommendations by the governor for the University:

* $4 million for endowed faculty chairs.

* $4.6 million for purchase of information technology resources.

"It is an excellent recommendation, we are very pleased," said Jim Snider, lobbyist for UM. "It's been a long time since we've had such good appropriations."

Snider said he does not plan a fight for any higher increase.

Columbia's representatives also expressed satisfaction with the committee's figures.

"Both the chancellor and the governor understand an increase in higher education is an investment for the state," said Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia.

Rep. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, called it a good budget that would help to "improve the quality and access to education."

Jacob did say he felt the University should the extra funds to broaden its admission policy.

The admissions issue was raised by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Lybyer, D-Huggins, during a Monday hearing on the higher education budget.

While acknowledging that admissions policies are set by the curators, Jacob said it was "important that the curators listen to what the legislature is saying."

Included in MU's budget is transfer of $250,000 for a University research project which technically had been under the Economic Development Department's Budget - although the study is being conducted by the University.

The Capsule Pipeline Research Center, based on the Columbia campus, investigates whether it is possible to move coal through pipelines by compressing it, and thus saving energy.

The budget recommended by the governor, and now pending before the House Budget Committee does not specify how much each campus of the University System would get.

Instead, the legislature appropriates a lump sum to the curators to be allocated by the curators.