COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Leaders with the University of Missouri system said higher education needs to be a top state priority on Friday.

Tim Wolfe, UM system president, told curators the state legislature claims it stands behind education, but proposed legislation like House Bill 253, which failed on Wednesday, runs counter to that.

The university system is in the middle of a strategic planning process. The system has committed $70 million in funding at its four campuses.

$48 million of that is coming from the existing budget and $22 million from the state. However, Wolfe would like to see more.

"Here in the state of Missouri, the constitution clearly mentions education is one of the top priorities of the state. However, if someone looks at the recent funding patterns of education, some people in the state might ask if there is a disconnect between priorities and what we decide at the end of the day to fund," said Wolfe.

Wolfe said funding for higher education is still at the same levels since 2001.

House Bill 253 brought serious concern among those in higher education. Wolfe believes that the state needs a deeper discussion about tax policy and budget priorities, and that is something the university is making its responsibility.

Campus officials pointed out Friday that the University of Missouri grew faster than any other public university in the nation in the last decade.