UMSL could receive money to make up for funding discrepancies

Monday, April 7, 2008 | 9:02 p.m. CDT; updated 5:05 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Under a proposal to the state higher education budget introduced Monday, the University of Missouri-St. Louis could receive $2.44 million during the 2009 fiscal year to make up for a funding difference between its own campus and the other three University of Missouri System campuses.

Sen. Joan Bray, D-St. Louis County, proposed allocating the money to the system’s core budget along with a letter of intent that recommends the money go toward UMSL.

Despite that recommendation, however, the legislature doesn’t control how appropriations are spent among the campuses. That responsibility falls to the UM System Board of Curators, which is not obligated to distribute the money according to legislator’s recommendations.

This is not the first time such funding issues have come up in budget hearings.

“There has been an attempt to address the issue for a number of years,” said Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This is an attempt to finally put the issue aside.”

Bray said the UM System knows of UMSL’s predicament, which amounts to about $10.8 million, according to the state Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

“A few years ago, they came to an agreement that, yes, indeed, UMSL has not been treated fairly on the curators’ budget,” Bray said.

UMSL Chancellor Thomas George said the equity gap has been present for years.

“Using a variety of measures — whether appropriations per full-time student ... by state appropriations per degree conferred, or other measures — UMSL has historically come up short,” George said.

UM spokesman Scott Charton said that since George arrived at UMSL in 2003, about $5.6 million has been invested to close the $10.8 million equity funding gap.

The legislature appropriated $431 million to the UM System for the current fiscal year, and the state House has approved $448.5 million for educational activities for the system for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Missourian reporter Andrew Lynch contributed to this story.

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