House Democrats say a healthy chunk of an expected budget surplus should be used to boost college funding. Democrats in the Missouri House say colleges have had to suffer during the lean times and should benefit now that the state budget expects to grow by as much as $500 million. House Minority Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) says Democrats will propose state colleges and universities receive an additional $110 million dollars in next year’s budget. He says a college education needs to be more accessible. Also, Democrats want to allow Missourians to deduct college tuition from state income taxes, a tax break totaling approximately $50 million. Harris says Republican leadership insists the money is there. He says Democrats simply are relying on the budget projections of House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill). Jetton has stated that state revenue has grown steadily this year and should provide as much as $500 million more for the next fiscal year. Harris says a 12.6% increase in higher education appropriations would still only bring higher education spending to 2002 levels. He says the proposal doesn’t require colleges promise to freeze tuition rates if they receive extra money from the state.
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