Column: House budget cuts are unprincipled
The Missouri House of Representatives is displaying negligence toward higher education.
Mar. 16, 2016
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Last Thursday, 108 yays conquered the 45 nays in the Missouri House of Representatives’ vote to cut $8.6 million from the UM System budget. The UM System will lose the brunt of it, $7.6 million, while the remaining million will be cut from MU, specifically.
The House’s budget cuts toward the UM System and MU are absolutely absurd. Much of the debate about whether or not the cuts are necessary stemmed from events that occurred last semester at MU.
A percentage of the yes votes may have been mainly driven for other reasons than the protests, but that percentage seems to be small. Much of the push for the cuts came from a “let’s teach MU a lesson” mindset, which is one of the most reckless and destructive political viewpoints I have had the displeasure of reading about.
According to previous Maneater reporting, Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, believes that the cut to MU is a punishment for its problems but will improve the campus in the long-run. This belief is incredibly ludicrous. The problems that Hoskins is referring to are the protests and general campus unrest that occurred last semester, and he does not want to “reward lack of leadership” during those events.
But Hoskin’s so-called punishment is not directed at a “lack of leadership.” Despite Hoskin’s best intentions, whatever those are, what he is really punishing is a campus that exercised its first amendment rights. The House passing these budget cuts sends a message that disrupting the status quo will only result in punishment, and it is entirely preposterous to me that the House believes that budget cuts will somehow improve the UM System.
What would actually improve the UM System, especially MU, is a larger budget. With the decrease in enrollment, MU needs all of the help it can receive. Not even a full semester of conflict, and suddenly Missouri government uses MU as a scapegoat to spend less money on higher education. MU is a place of higher education, and it should be respected as such. It is home to a diverse population of democratic citizens that have every right to speak up when they aren’t receiving equal treatment compared to their peers.
In this case, conflict is not weakness. Last semester’s conflicts showcased the strength of the student body, and withholding money from the UM System to supposedly compensate for the issues that were brought to light is a crime against the integrity of students in higher education.
The true lack of leadership is really being shown by the Missouri House of Representatives. I feel outraged for my university. We have displayed a want and a need for change. We have reached out for that change in ways that may have raised hell, but instead of interpreting those actions as justified and strong, the House has decided that these great strides toward a bigger and better MU are more troublesome than constructive.
That is a disgrace. Now more than ever, the UM System and MU need support from the state government. During a time of progression and change, economic security is priceless and the House is displaying an attitude that values a silent higher education system in their state rather than one that is brave enough to create a progressive future.
That is pure negligence toward the education and experience the UM System prides itself in. The UM System deserves better. Questioning authority and disrupting the status quo does not warrant a budgetary punishment, and if 108 people in the House do not have the patience to be a part of this process then this is what I have to say to them: Shame on you.