Forsee backs Nixon's proposed higher education budget

Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | 8:52 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee reiterated support Wednesday for Gov. Jay Nixon’s higher education budget proposal.

Last week, Nixon previewed his proposal to maintain state appropriations at the current level in the FY 2010 budget in exchange for an agreement by universities and colleges not to raise tuition.

Forsee's statement was released in response to the governor's State of the State message Tuesday. Forsee said the UM System is in full support of the governor’s proposal to maintain current funding levels in exchange for no tuition increases.

A proposed 50 percent cut to the extension program was “not anticipated,” Forsee said in the release, adding that more time would be needed to determine what the implications of a cut that size would be.

“We were surprised,” UM spokeswoman Jennifer Hollingshead said.

Still, Forsee applauded the governor’s “clear commitment to investing in public higher education and his belief that education is vital to advancing Missouri’s economy, creating jobs and preparing students for a globally competitive workplace.”

He also declared support for other recommendations by the governor, including the proposal for the Access Missouri scholarship program to balance awards for public and private colleges.

Currently, students who receive the scholarship and attend a private institution receive more than twice the amount of students with scholarships attending a public institution, Forsee said.

Missouri Department of Higher Education spokeswoman Kathy Love said the Coordinating Board for Higher Education plans to discuss the issue in February.

Forsee also said he and the Missouri Department of Higher Education appreciated the governor’s Caring for Missourians proposal.

“Caring for Missourians will improve access to health care, increase the educational capacity of approximately 26 institutions, and ensure a higher quality of life for its graduates,” said Robert Stein, commissioner of the Higher Education Department.

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