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Lawmakers talk University of Missouri budget cuts

Millions of dollars for the University of Missouri were on the chopping block Thursday as the Missouri House of Representatives voted to approve $8.6 million in cuts to the system.

After months of controversy and unrest within the college system, the Missouri House decided it was time to take drastic measures.

State Rep. Jay Barnes, (R) of Jefferson City said, “What I’ve watched for 7 months is my double-alma mater dragged through the muck on the national news … and I think a large part of it was the university’s own doing.”

State Rep. Karla May, (D) of St. Louis: “We have a responsibility to lead them to eradicate inequality on any campus in this state.”

Instead of the usual increase of state funds, the House approved slashing the UM system’s budget by $8.6 million. That’s about 2% of what the system gets from the state.

“They think that changes need to be made,” said Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins, (R) of Warrensburg, “One of the ways to do those changes here in the general assembly is through power of the purse. So, we are the ones who decide how to appropriate those funds.”

The UM system is now facing more than a 2% cut in state funding. It anticipates next year’s enrollment to be about 1,500 fewer students than this year. Some lawmakers say all that lost revenue will affect the wrong people.

State Rep. Chuck Basye, (R) of Rocheport said, “These budget cuts are not gonna hit the intended target. Lower-paid employees and the students I think they’re gonna feel the worst of it.”

“They’re gonna be felt by students in the way of decreased educational opportunities they’re gonna be felt by the low lower income university employees, there’s gonna be a hiring freeze,” said State Rep. Stephen Webber, (D) of Columbia.

Many representatives on both sides of the aisle believe that $8.6 million budget cut could manifest itself in higher tuition rates.

This year, the UM Board of Curators postponed their tuition discussion that usually takes place in February.

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