The Maneater

Editorial: Gov. Greitens’ continued budget cuts to higher education are alarming

The proposed budget cuts to higher education by Gov. Greitens for the second year in a row are irrational and harmful to Missouri institutions as a whole.

Higher education is vital to the long-term growth of a state’s economy. Highly skilled individuals who undertake studies at state institutions such as MU stimulate job growth in the state of Missouri. A college education is something to be valued, and Gov. Eric Greitens, a Duke University graduate and a Rhodes scholar, should understand this far more than the average individual. Nonetheless, he intends to cut higher education funding in Missouri for the second year in a row.

The overall budget, which has yet to be passed, breaks down the state’s 2019 fiscal year. While the proposed budget does raise the funding for K-12 education to an all-time high, the decision to cut funding to higher education is one step forward and two steps back. If Greitens truly believes that the children of Missouri deserve a better education, then why is he solely concerned with K-12 education? Some of the students he hopes to help by increasing the pay of their teachers will eventually want to attend college. By cutting funding to the University of Missouri System, Greitens is effectively lessening the likelihood of students staying in Missouri after high school.

Student leaders from several Missouri institutions expressed their dissatisfaction toward the governor’s plans to cut the higher education budget in a joint statement:

"Public higher education is an unparalleled economic driver for states like ours. It is not an exaggeration to say that public education paves the way to the American Dream. In addition, it adds value to those who attend institutions of higher education and for those who benefit from the fruits of its labor.”

Members of Greitens’ own party also expressed their disapproval of the new budget, one of whom being Rep. Donna Lichtenegger of Cape Girardeau. She told the Columbia Missourian that “another cut is going to do nothing but hurt our education system” and pointed out that “people are going to start going out of state to colleges because our professors are going to leave — that’s what I fear.”

Ultimately, students will more than likely have to help Missouri institutions carry the burden of lost funding through increased tuition rates. While the state passed a law that caps tuition rates at the rate of inflation, the idea of repealing this law is now being openly discussed. Doing so would effectively allow the university to attempt to cover costs that the new budget does not. This could change how out-of-state students view the university from a financial perspective. Students would be paying more for less of an education. The UM System already cut 500 jobs last year in an attempt to deal with less funding. Further cuts would be crippling to Missouri institutions.

Greitens’ plan to cut funding is a short-term solution that attempts to save face as being “conservative” by saving his voting block money while putting the future livelihood of the state at risk. It would be irrational to believe that anything positive will come from underfunding higher education in Missouri.

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