The University of Missouri must wait a little longer to find out whether reductions in its state aid will be restored by the Senate Budget Committee.
The state House proposed the University would receive no increase in performance-based funding, and a reduction of $8.6-million from what it got in state aid in the current budget. This was largely because lawmakers are critical of the University leadership’s response to and handling of last fall’s student protests over racial issues.
The Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday started proposing changes to the House plan but delayed action regarding MU’s funding.
Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) said the committee must decide soon whether to restore the governor’s proposed increase for colleges and universities, including MU, as part of an agreement that would see them not increase tuition.
“He did have the agreement on the tuition increase at 6-percent,” Schaefer told the committee’s members. “I’m not saying that dictates what we do, but I think that’s just part of the equation that everybody needs to keep in mind.”
Schaefer said lawmakers don’t want to see tuition increased, but said proposing increases in higher education or anything else is made more difficult by increases Medicaid spending. He said the year-to-year growth in Medicaid is 34-percent, and called that the largest he’s ever seen.
“When you look at things like equity funding for the 2-year and 4-year institutions, a 6-percent increase in performance funding, that money has to come from somewhere,” said Schaefer. “If you’re taking every dime of General Revenue that we’re going to generate in the next year plus we have to cut $29-million on top of that to take and add to all that General Revenue to do nothing but fund Medicaid, then you can see how there’s not a lot left.”
Senate Democrats are concerned that Schaefer and Republicans will propose cuts to Medicaid services. Senator Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City) is the top Democrat on the budget committee.
“We have an economy that of course has been declining over the last several years and for us to begin making significant cuts to the program could mean something really devastating for families,” Curls told Missourinet.
The committee will continue work on the budget for several days. Schaefer hopes to reach its position on MU funding by early next week.
Once the committee reaches its position on a spending plan, the full Senate will vote on it, then the House and Senate will negotiate to seek agreement on differences between the chambers’ respective positions.