Nixon cuts $200 million from state budget

Funding to MU technology and health care programs was reduced.
Katie Prince / Graphic Designer

Gov. Jay Nixon announced more than $200 million in state budget cuts Wednesday, including reductions in funding to MU technology and health care programs.

The latest reductions mean Nixon has slashed some $634 million from the budget as it was passed by the legislature in May. Citing a decline in state revenues due to the recession, Nixon said the reductions were necessary to avoid raising taxes and still balance the budget, as the state constitution requires.

"This isn't Washington, we don't get to print money," Nixon said in a transcript of his remarks obtained by The Maneater. "We must and we will make the fiscally responsible decisions to balance our budget this year, next year and every year after."

Nixon said the reductions were aimed at protecting jobs, education and health care. He emphasized there will be no cuts to the core budgets of any state universities or universities and said the tuition freeze will remain in effect, even as other states are raising public university tuition to close similar budget gaps.

But Missouri's latest cuts mean some 700 state employees will lose their jobs, with 200 of them being full-time positions. Additionally, MU's technology provider, MOREnet, lost more than $3 million in state funds.

MU Health Care saw appropriations for its hospitals and clinics cut by $3 million as well. The Missouri Kidney Program, the Institute of Mental Health and a telemedicine program based at the hospital all lost 25 percent of their budgeted appropriations. Nixon said these cuts were necessary to leave core university budgets untouched.

Chancellor Brady Deaton released a statement shortly after governor's announcement and said the MU's budget had not been affected, but said those cuts could affect MU programs.

"We are very grateful that the core budget of the University of Missouri was not reduced," Deaton said. "However, several of the cuts will have both direct and indirect effects on our operations, primarily in health care and other statewide programs administered by the university."

MU Health Care spokeswoman Mary Jenkins said MU Health Care does not know exactly how the cuts to its hospital and clinic funds will affect services yet.

"Really all I can tell you is that we're very concerned about the cuts and we're in the process of assessing the impact," she said. "It could take several days to a few weeks."

MOREnet is a separate business unit within MU that provides IT services to public schools and colleges, libraries and other state entities. MOREnet spokeswoman Anissa Lockett said the company would be putting off network equipment maintenance but said MOREnet was also still trying to figure out how to work with less money. She said the company was trying not to raise prices for customers, such as MU.

"We're going to be deferring or eliminating the replacement of some network equipment," Lockett said. "Currently, we're doing everything we can so that we don't have to impact member fees this year."

Several other state agencies saw their budgets cut deeply. One such agency is the Missouri Arts Council, which will lose $4.4 million in funds for grants from the state. The council's Director Bev Strohmeyer said grants paid by those funds will still be honored using money from the council's trust fund.

But the council is also the state agency assigned to distribute state funds to public television and radio stations. The $1.7 million previously allocated for public broadcasting was cut by $738,000 on Wednesday.

"We are covering all our grantees," Strohmeyer said. "But we also issue grant contracts to public television and radio stations and we will not be honoring some of those grants."

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