FIVE IDEAS: Forsee asks for input on handling budget cuts

Saturday, December 13, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST

Dealing with budget cuts

Facing huge budget cuts in the range of $60 million to $100 million, University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee offered students and faculty the equivalent of an electronic suggestion box via e-mail Wednesday. University leaders met in a closed faculty meeting Tuesday to discuss the options for a fiscal cut, but Forsee’s e-mail a day later emphasized his concerns for the university; and in an act of transparency, he openly requested suggestions for how the university can ease mounting financial pressures.

This announcement comes on the tail of news last month that the UM System's Columbia campus raised a total of $1 billion for the “For All We Call Mizzou” campaign, placing it among a select number of universities that have hit that fundraising mark. Most of those funds will go to buildings and programs, endowed chairs, scholarships and research grants.

What are some of your suggestions for cutting the university’s budget?

Cutting the fat in state politics

The crunch has begun, and government agencies are looking for ways to reduce spending in preparation for lower budgets in 2009.

Gov.-elect Jay Nixon announced his plan this week to make 600 state employees re-apply for their jobs next year, saying some positions will be eliminated and others consolidated.

Nixon will face a possible $342 million budget deficit when he takes office . The governor-elect, who also announced this week that he will fulfill one of his lighthearted campaign promises to have the first governor inaugural potluck, is looking ahead at the state’s looming budget deficit. This holiday season, as you trim the tree, think about the budget trimming going on around the country.

As the state trims its budget this holiday season, what will get “trimmed” from your budget next year?

Can you vouch for vouchers?

The city is going to drop the drop-off bag program, but it could lead to residents dropping their good recycling habits.

The Columbia refuse collection system is cutting back on costs by changing the drop-off bag system to a voucher system. People who need the black trash bags and blue recycling bags — provided free of charge by the city — will now get vouchers in the mail that can be redeemed for bags at local grocery stores.

From the city’s Web site, participating stores include Hy-Vee, Gerbes supermarket, Moser’s Discount Foods, Patricia’s Foods, Schnucks supermarket and Westlake ACE Hardware.

As the price and demand for recyclable materials decline, the city is faced with a money-losing recycling program that lacks the space to house unwanted recyclables. The city estimates the bag-voucher system will save $260,000 a year, but what will be the estimated cost to recycling?

Now that bags aren’t being delivered to your doorstep, will the new voucher system affect your recycling habits?

Oh, that Illinois brand of politics

Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor named in corruption charges and arrested Tuesday on suspicion of trying to sell the Senate seat left open by President-elect Barack Obama, is facing a political death. However, what’s less certain is the future of those candidates who may come out of this incident with a less-than-clean reputation because of their involvement with the governor. Named as the infamous “Candidate 5," Jesse Jackson Jr. called a news conference to refute any involvement or knowledge of Blagojevich’s misdeeds. Officials have also advised people to not jump to incriminate Jackson because of Blagojevich’s statements.

With leaders as high up as President-elect Obama calling for the governor’s removal, Blagojevich’s days in politics are numbered, yet the decision of what to do with Obama’s Senate seat remains.

What do you think they should do about Obama’s Senate seat?

MU says butts out

In six years, MU hopes to completely people from stop smoking on campus.

As contentious as the citywide smoking ban in Columbia was, MU is attempting to implement strict smoking bans across campus in hopes of becoming a smoke-free university by 2014, according to a news release by the MU News Bureau. The first phase of cessation is a 20-foot ban on smoking around exits, entrances and air-intake systems.

Following that phase, designated smoking areas will corral smokers into certain spots around campus by Jan. 1, 2011. By the start of 2014, the plan is to have smoking banned on all university property.

In a news release from MU, one aspect of the smoke-free plan includes prescription smoking-cessation drugs that will be covered under the university’s health-care plan.

With policies emphasizing health and a ban on smoking, is our society heading toward an all-out ban on tobacco?

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