House committee votes to deny UM System a budget increase
Rep. Kip Kendrick: “The mentality of doing damage to the University of Missouri because my colleagues in Jefferson City are upset with the university makes absolutely no sense.”
Feb. 11, 2016
State lawmakers voted Wednesday to deny the UM System a $26.8 million increase in funds proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
In his budget proposal for fiscal year 2017, Nixon proposed a 6 percent increase in funding for all public Missouri colleges and universities, totalling $55.6 million. However, the Higher Education Appropriations Committee voted on an amendment to change the increase to 2 percent and exclude the UM System from receiving the increase.
Chairwoman of the committee, Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, said the exclusion of the UM System is a consequence of Concerned Student 1950’s protests in November and MU’s failure to fire assistant communications professor Melissa Click, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune. Click was caught on video calling for “muscle” to remove a student journalist from Concerned Student 1950’s campsite in November. Lichtenegger also cited Concerned Student 1950’s protest at the Board of Curators’ meeting last week and called it the “last stroke.”
“They are there to learn, not to protest all day long,” Lichtenegger told the Tribune. “I thought we learned that lesson in the ’60s. Obviously we haven’t.”
Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, called the committee’s decision a retaliatory action that would hurt students.
“Retaliatory action from the General Assembly and the legislature is not going to be felt by administrators that people are frustrated with,” Webber said. “It’s going to be felt by students by way of higher fees and reduced educational opportunities.”
Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said last week in a town hall meeting that cutting funding would not help.
“Cutting any sort of funding to the university as some sort of retaliatory statement is unfair, it is shortsighted and it’s unnecessary,” Rowden said.
During the town hall, Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, called the university a “gem.”
“The mentality of doing damage to the University of Missouri because my colleagues in Jefferson City are upset with the university makes absolutely no sense,” Kendrick said.
Lichtenegger said that some constituents wanted the university system to fare far worse consequences and have lawmakers cut the budget. Now, the UM System budget is frozen.
“The best thing I could get was not doing the two percent increase,” Lichtenegger said.
After Nixon announced his proposal to increase funding, many schools promised to freeze tuition for the 2016-17 school year. Now it will be up to them to revisit their decision to freeze tuition, Lichtenegger said, because of the substantial $45.4 million difference. MU has yet to finalize tuition for the 2016-17 school year.
The appropriations bill will now move to the House Budget Committee before going to the full House and then the Senate.