Curators finalize state funding requests for 2012

Friday, July 23, 2010 | 4:48 p.m. CDT; updated 4:09 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 24, 2010

COLUMBIA — The UM System Board of Curators is asking the state for $293.3 million for priority capital improvements and $124.2 million in new funds for operations for 2012.

The 2012 fiscal year runs from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. The appropriations request breaks down this way:

  • $588 million overall for capital improvements throughout the four-campus system
  • $552.7 million overall for operations throughout the system

Nikki Krawitz, system vice president of finance and administration, said the new money being requested for the operations budget, $124.2 million, is intended to help fund critical needs including competitive salaries, deferred maintenance, technology improvements and the education of health-care professionals. For this current year, fiscal year 2011, the system asked the state for about $519 million but received $427.9 million, Krawitz said.

The curators discussed the state appropriations requests in June and approved the amount on Friday morning via video conference. The request will be submitted to the state in August.

The amounts won't come as a shock to lawmakers. Krawitz said before the meeting that the system still needs the same basic things it has in past years. According to a previous Missourian article, state appropriations for the 2011 fiscal year were about $452.5 million.

"Clearly, the General Assembly and the governor's office are very aware of our needs because the needs that were presented last year haven't changed," Krawitz said.

At MU, top capital projects, known as Tier I projects, are renovating and adding on to the College of Engineering's Lafferre Hall on the southwest end of Francis Quadrangle. The building has been the No. 1 repair job for MU for years.

"Parts of the building are very old, and classrooms, labs and research facilities in these parts are in appalling condition to the point that there are environmental, health and safety issues," Krawitz said.

The system is asking the state for $64.8 million to improve the building, parts of which date back to the 1800s.

Krawitz said that the system understands the state's current budget crisis but that the request is an accurate portrait of the universities' needs.

"We are not always sure that it will be funded, but we do think we have a responsibility to let the governor know what our needs are," she said.

At the meeting, curator John Carnahan of Springfield raised concerns about how the state's budget crisis would affect its ability to respond to MU's request.

Responding to Carnahan, Krawitz said it was important for the university to make its needs to known with the understanding that the state is facing difficult budget times.

"So moved then, I guess," Carnahan said as he approved the appropriations request.

As far as operating appropriations requests go, the UM System is still pushing to get partially state-funded raises for its ranked faculty. For the past three fiscal years, the curators have presented the Competitive Ranked Faculty Compensation request to the state. This request is a matching program in which both the state and the UM System contribute salary increases for ranked faculty members in the system.

MU faculty have not had raises since at least the 2009 fiscal year. In that fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, the system implemented the Competitive Ranked Faculty Compensation Program even though the state did not provide its share of funding, Krawitz said. The system paid both its part of the program and the state's part of the program. Because of that, the curators are asking the state to pay back its part of the program.

If the program is approved, raises will be based on merit and market. Decisions about awarding raises will be made at each campus based on individual faculty members' years of experience and performance evaluations. The system compares faculty members' salaries to their peers to ensure that MU offers competitive salaries.

Curators, in addition to Carnahan, again raised questions about the reality of getting the operations request approved. Krawitz stressed more than once that whether the request is met, filing it is important.

"The state expects us to make the request," she said.

The curators also discussed the system's ongoing changes to its retirement plan. According to a previous Missourian article, all full-time, benefit-eligible employees must pay into their retirement plans. This plan went into effect July 1, 2009.

The system is looking into what it will cost to implement its new retirement plan going forward, said Betsy Rodriguez, vice president of human resources. The system will also hold discussions with employees in the fall to get feedback on the new retirement plan.

Rodriguez said she expects to bring a recommendation about the plan back to the board near the end of the year.

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wayne mcdaniel July 26, 2010 | 12:56 p.m.

Nothing like asking for the Moon when you know you are not going to get even what you did this year.

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