Missouri house strikes deal with universities to restore higher education funding

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Republican House Budget Committee Chariman Scott Fitzpatrick and the state's public colleges and universities have worked out a deal to limit tuition increases in exchange for steady state funding. 

Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday that most schools have agreed to cap tuition hikes at 1 percent. In exchange, House members agreed to a plan to keep higher education funding level next fiscal year, which begins in July. 

That means the $68 million that Governor Greitens had previously cut in his budget proposal will be restored. An MU spokesperson said about $31 million of that will go to the UM System. 

"The University of Missouri System and our four campuses are grateful for the Missouri legislature’s support of public higher education," UM System President Mun Choi said in a statement. "This investment will help us serve Missourians through robust education, research, outreach and economic development—meeting the state's workforce needs, conducting life-changing research, assisting Missourians through Extension and creating jobs. Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick and the Missouri House are to be commended for prioritizing the education needs of our state's sons and daughters." 

"I strongly believe that an investment in public higher education is an investment in the state—an investment that pays rich dividends for all Missourians," MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright added. "Today, representatives in the Missouri House demonstrated they understand this by approving an amendment to restore funding to public higher education institutions, including the University of Missouri. We are very appreciative of their support and their hard work on our budget over the last few months." 

Higher education funding was at risk after Gov. Eric Greitens proposed $68 million in reductions on top of cuts he enacted. House representatives said it was important to restore funding after last year's 9 percent cut. 

"Coming off a year of $100 million plus cuts to public higher education, we felt we had to minimize the damage this year," Rep. Kip Kendrick (D-Columbia) said. 

Kendrick said the funding isn't a permanent solution, as funding for higher education has been on the decline in Missouri for years. 

"This isn't a fix," he said. "This is really only getting us back to minimizing the damage this year." 

Kendrick said he's fairly confident that if Greitens tries to veto that bill, then lawmakers will override it. 

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