MU’s first appropriations meeting for the current fiscal year was held Tuesday morning to discuss Gov. Nixon’s higher education request.
According to the request for operations, the foremost priority for this fiscal year is the funding of $405.8 million — previously a core piece of the 2012 fiscal year appropriations.
Last year, higher education funding faced a 12.5 percent cut, about $100.1 million. The projected cuts for this year were expected to be much worse, but are around a 1 percent cut instead of an anticipated 12.5 percent.
Missouri Students Association Legislative Coordinator Ben Levin said he attended the meeting to keep an eye on MU’s core funding.
“The goal of the money is to make up for the gross funding negligence the university has been dealing with for 10 years,” Levin said. “The governor’s requested budget this year was very generous, and hopefully we’ll have smooth sailing as far as the budget goes this year.”
There aren’t any planned spending cuts for higher education funding in this fiscal year, but Levin said the problem with the budget is its built-in revenue projections, which depend on some politically-contentious issues.
“If Medicaid is not expanded and if extra revenue is not brought in, there is no indication where revenue will be cut,” Levin said.
In Nixon’s budget, he cut 1 percent from higher education base budgets but then allotted a $34 million reservoir of money to be divided based on performance measures.
MU's appropriation this year is $411 million.
A plan devised by Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream opposed Nixon’s increased funding for higher education as well as Medicaid.
In the plan composed by Stream, $20 million would be distributed to higher education funding instead of Nixon’s proposed $34 million.
Regardless of the proposed budget plans, MU’s appropriations request outlines dividing an additional $127 million, factored into the total budget, to raise salaries, improve infrastructure, combat enrollment growth, adjust St. Louis funding gap, continue funding Caring for Missourians initiative, establish endowed professorships and improve MU’s science and engineering national ranking.
According to the report, “the requests reflect the need to address funding issues resulting from several years of increased enrollment and decreased or stagnant state appropriations.”
The goal of the budget is to raise faculty salaries to a more competitive rate, repair delayed maintenance and address the issue of growing enrollment. The report states student enrollment growth has grown immensely over the past 10 years, and the stagnant or declining state appropriations did not address the issue.
Levin said the appropriations report sees the issue of competitive faculty as a priority.
“We pay our faculty less than any other public (Association of American Universities) institution,” Levin said. “We’ve given them one pay raise in the last four to five years. Having core funding and maintaining level core funding is crucial.”
Levin said the committee has not received any news as of yet on spending cuts.
“No news is good news,” Levin said.