Higher education budget measure passes both Missouri chambers

The measure restores the $68.1 million previously cut from higher education.

UPDATE: ASUM's consent education bill was passed May 15 by the Missouri House and Senate.

The Missouri Senate approved a budget measure for higher education on April 25 that would keep funding at the same level as the previous year for fiscal year 2019.

A similar measure was originally passed by the Missouri House of Representatives.The Republican-led House budget, which was approved at the end of March, did not include Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ proposed $68.1 million cut to higher education, relative to last year’s funding. The measure passed with a vote of 31-1.

Of the governor’s total proposed cuts to higher education, $43 million would come from the University of Missouri System.

Last year, the General Assembly agreed to cut higher education funding by 6 percent, and Governor Greitens increased that cut to 9 percent when he signed the final budget. This year, the $68.1 million reduction would be a 7.7 percent decrease from the previous year.

The governor’s proposal drew the ire of students who attend public universities across the state, who earlier this year published a letter that expressed their disapproval of the proposed cuts.

As a stipulation for not further cutting funding to public institutions of higher education, the chair of the Missouri House Budget Committee, Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, is asking public colleges and universities not to raise tuition. Fitzpatrick believes that the institutions should not raise tuition while simultaneously receiving steady funding from the state.

The two chambers must now settle a variety of differences between their budget bills, but because both chambers restored higher education funding, that is guaranteed to be in the final budget sent to the governor.

Among these differences is a divide between the Senate and House proposals on funding for K-12 education. The senate proposal includes roughly half the amount of K-12 funding as the House. The senate allocated funds to school transportation, nursing homes and state employee healthcare.

Other budget items still need to be passed by the senate before a complete budget can be passed by both chambers. The complete budget will total $27.8 billion.

Neither Sen. Caleb Rowden nor Rep. Kip Kendrick were available to comment.

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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