Governor Nixon has promised not to cut funding for state colleges and universities in exchange for a promise that they won’t raise tuition, but leading lawmakers question whether Nixon has made a promise he can’t keep.
House Higher Education Committee Chairman, Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), has no doubt the governor made a promise he can’t keep.
"I think so. I think he did," Kingery told reporters, explaining that the state doesn’t know yet what revenue might come in.
House Budget Committee Chairman, Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), says he doesn’t believe it’s wise to place any aspect of state government off limits to budget cuts.
"What he has in fact done, to some extent, is to handcuff himself in proposing a balanced budget to us," Icet says.
Icet says he was surprised by the announcement. He points out that the General Revenue budget totals $8 billion. Funding for public schools totals $3 billion. Medicaid requires a bit more than $2 billion, with higher education funding totaling $1 billion. Icet says keeping those off-limits for budget cuts, leaves little left in the General Revenue budget to cut.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) would like to be able to fulfill Nixon’s promise.
"So, I like the idea," says Nodler, "It’s consistent with my own priorities and I would hope that we can find the resources in the budget to do it."
That, though, remains to be seen.