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House Committee Approves Cuts to Public Universities

March 05, 2002
By: Matt Williams
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 1103

Sponsor:Green
Description: Higher Education Appropriations Bill
Current Status:Mark-up in Education Appropriations Committee
Next Step: House Budget Committee

JEFFERSON CITY - A House committee gave tentative approval last week to Gov. Bob Holden's proposal to cut $49 million from the University of Missouri's budget.

The House Education Appropriations Committee accepted Holden's recommendations for higher education funding, including similar 10 percent cuts to the state's other public colleges and universities.

The committee is continuing the markup of both elementary and higher education budgets, where legislators approve expenditures line by line. The panel reviewed funding for universities without any changes.

Committee Chairman Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he didn't anticipate cuts further than Holden's in his committee, but said anything could happen when the proposal has to compete with other departments for funding.

Graham cautioned university supporters not to celebrate too early, as there are many more opportunities for the budget to be cut further.

"It may be an early battle victory, but this is going to be a long war," he said. "It's not a time for people to be complacent."

Rep. Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, who also serves on the committee, said he was confident that universities would be spared from cuts beyond Holden's budget. However, he said if lawmakers don't approve proposals to increase gambling revenues and tap budget reserves, cuts could come from anywhere.

"Those things may not happen, and if they don't, we might have to make worse cuts," Farnen said.

Holden proposed giving the University of Missouri $411 million for the next fiscal year, about $49 million less than was budgeted for this year. University officials warned that the university may be forced to leave faculty positions open and haven't ruled out a tuition increase if cuts are made to the university's budget.