Missouri’s budget situation is uncertain and legislative leaders are trying to make it clear to colleges and universities that higher education is a major priority of the General Assembly.
Tuesday afternoon, Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) and three other legislators held a conference call with the presidents of Missouri’s four-year and two-year public universities and colleges to assure them that higher education remains a high priority during the current legislative session and beyond.
There are plenty of rumors that higher education will likely face budget cuts, and Shields cannot assure the educators there will be no cuts. "I don’t know how anybody that’s responsible in the budget process," says Shields, "Could tell one segment of Missouri state government they’re immune from budget cuts when we know we are possibly facing a billion dollar deficit."
Shields adds any cuts should be viewed as short-term actions. "What I want them to realize," says Shields, "Is that we have a long-term plan for higher education – one that goes past this budget cycle."
On reorganization of higher education, Shields tries to put those fears to rest: "Many of the presidents I think had read reports in the press that there was going to be this massive effort to reorganize higher education in our state this year … Hopefully, the call alleviated any fears that they might have had."