Missouri legislature passes $1 million in cuts to MU

Another proposed amendment to the budget, which was withdrawn, would cut state funding for MU from $169,305,944 to $1.
Rep. Chuck Bayse, R-Columbia, and Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, speak at town hall Feb. 4, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. The legislators opposed budget cuts to the UM System. A House committee recently denied the UM System a 2 percent budget increase that given to other state universities and colleges.

Missouri House legislators passed a proposal Tuesday to eliminate $1 million in state funding from MU.

The amendment to House Bill 2003, an appropriations bill for higher education funding, would remove $1 million from MU funding for the next fiscal year and appropriate an equivalent amount toward funding for Lincoln University. The amendment was offered by Rep. Jay Barnes, R-Jefferson City, and passed on an 83–75 vote.

Barnes said he would cut more money from MU if he could, citing a projected drop in student enrollment for the 2016–17 academic year.

Opinions on the cuts varied. Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, spoke in opposition to the amendment, as well as cuts to the UM System in general. Webber argued that cuts would fall disproportionately on students or low wage workers.

Speaking in favor of the cuts, Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, claimed the UM System leaders had been condescending to lawmakers.

Barnes’ amendment was only one of the many discussed on Tuesday, as the House held nearly four hours of hearings and debate on higher education funding.

Defeated amendments included a proposal to cut state funding for MU from $169,305,944 to $1, proposed by Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark. The amendment was ultimately withdrawn by its sponsor out of fear it might actually have passed, according to Miller.

Other amendments not passed included a proposal by Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, that would have increased performance funding to the UM System by 2 percent.

Rep. Justin Alfermann, R-Hermann, defended the measure.

The total appropriations bill, which also contains $7.6 million in cuts to UM System administration, is currently laid over by committee.

Edited by Taylor Blatchford | tblatchford@themaneater.com

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