Mo. Lawmakers May Buck Nixon's Higher Ed Cuts

Friday, January 20, 2012

Missouri university officials warned Wednesday of potential tuition increases, course reductions and employee furloughs if Gov. Jay Nixon's newly proposed 12.5 percent funding cut for higher education comes to fruition.

Nixon's budget proposal would drop state aid to public colleges and universities to its lowest level since 1997, compounding the financial strain on schools that already have been forced to trim costs during several consecutive years of flat or declining state funding.

The Democratic governor suggested in Tuesday night's State of the State address that higher education institutions should adopt "leaner, more efficient operations" and "change their business models." On Wednesday, a key lawmaker pledged to try to block the governor's plan and college officials said it won't be possible to account for the collective $106 million cut merely by administrative efficiencies.

"It is fair to ask how long we can continue to do more with less," said Steve Owens, the interim president of the University of Missouri system. "After a decade of reductions in state support and implementation of operational efficiencies, we are near the point where either the level of funding will have to increase or the scope and quality of services will have to decrease."

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