UM system spokeswoman: Talks of budget cuts ‘all speculation’

The Missouri legislature will not consider funding changes until 2011.

Reports that the UM system's budget could be cut by as much as $500 million -- 10 percent of its total budget -- next year are speculation, a system spokeswoman said Thursday evening.

UM system spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said the university had not made any formal announcements about its budget projections or the possibility of any tuition increases for fiscal year 2012.

She confirmed UM system President Gary Forsee spoke Thursday morning at the Governor's Conference on Economic Development in Kansas City and that Forsee said the system could see cuts in the next fiscal year. Hollingshead also said Forsee's remarks were not official predictions of the system's fiscal condition.

"It's all speculation at this point," Hollingshead said. "I think we've known that there will be reductions, but we're not even in the legislative session, let alone the end of the session when budgets are set."

The state legislature adjourned its regular session in May after approving a fiscal year 2011 budget that cut higher education spending by $50 million. That amount is the maximum allowed to maintain an agreement Gov. Jay Nixon made with schools in 2007.

That agreement froze tuition at public universities at 2007 levels when the legislature agreed not to cut higher education spending by more than 5.2 percent.

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said the legislature is not discussing any immediate changes to the state’s higher education budget.

He said Nixon might be working on his budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year, and the UM system might be communicating with him about those proposals but that lawmakers would not begin considering any proposals until they convene in regular session in January.

“I’m assuming that (the 10 percent figure) comes from (an) interpretation of the governor’s proposed budget,” he said. “I’m not aware of any discussion in the General Assembly about making cuts to higher education.”

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