Governor redirects surplus funds to MU Extension in budget proposal

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 | 6:43 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Gov. Jay Nixon said Wednesday his proposed state budget would redirect $10.1 million in surplus funds to Extension programs at MU and Lincoln University.

Nixon said his administration identified funds remaining after construction of a women's prison in Chillicothe to transfer to the extension programs.

Extension programs were initially targeted for a $15.4 million cut in his budget for fiscal year 2010. Of that, the proposed direct cut to MU Extension was $14.6 million.

Under the revised budget proposal, which still needs legislative approval, extension programs at Lincoln would be restored. MU Extension would have $9.3 million returned, leaving a cut of $5.3 million.

“The university extension programs provide important services for Missourians, and I’m pleased that we have the opportunity to allocate additional resources to fund their work,” Nixon said in anews release.

“There will still be a cut, but it is far less than what was originally recommended a couple of weeks ago,” said Nixon's press secretary, Scott Holste.

The additional funding is reimbursed interest paid on bonds issued by the Board of Public Buildings to finance the correctional facility in Chillicothe, which opened in December.

About $7 million is immediately available from the project fund for the building, Holste said.  Another $2.7 million will become available April 1 and the remaining $419,000 on Oct. 1.

The release of these funds must be approved by the public buildings board, which is scheduled to meet next week.

H.C. Russell, MU Extension State Council chairman, said he was pleased to see the proposed cut reduced but still voiced concerns.

“The governor’s commitment to higher education is strong and we are very supportive of that, but his desire to pick out and scrutinize a single department is simply unreasonable,” Russell said. 

The state council will continue to work with officials to get its message out, he said.

“We will continue to press the legislators to treat extension as a part of higher education in Missouri,” Russell said.

Once the General Assembly passes a state budget, university administrators will allocate the appropriations.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton praised Nixon for the move.

“Extension's ability to stimulate economic development, create jobs, train the work force, educate Missourians about nutrition and preventative health care, and provide pathways for our youth to contribute to Missouri's economic success is being recognized, and we are grateful," Deaton said.

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