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Higher Education Funds Get Preliminary House Approval

March 13, 2001
By: Ben Paynter
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri House has voted to give the University of Missouri about $500,000 more than the governor recommended for the four-campus system's general operating budget.

The House gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a House Budget Committee recommendation of a $458.7 million appropriation in state funds for the system. This would be a 3.8 percent increase in funds for the current budget year that ends June 30. However, under the governor's plan, most of that increase would be used for "mission enhancements."

Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said the money would go toward "mission enhancements" that improve staff and faculty conditions and help secure programs to draw federal investments.

"This is leverage for other general revenue jobs and commerce," said Graham, who added that the bill was MU's number one priority for the coming year.

MU is still awaiting the release of budget-construction funds earmarked for the current fiscal year. That budget, which includes funds for a Life Sciences Center, has been frozen by the governor because of shortfalls in the state's overall budget.

Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, said she pleased with the House-approved version of the University's budget for the next fiscal year.

"This is better than perhaps we though initially," Wilson said. She said the university always needs funds, but "we fared better than some feared we might."

The higher education budget bill faces one more vote in the House before going to the Senate.