JEFFERSON CITY — A $20 million funding boost to higher education budget was tentatively approved Monday by the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, proposed to his committee a plan to increase the Missouri higher education budget in order to help reduce costs for students.
Schaefer said they have a commitment with all university presidents to help decrease overall student costs in response to receiving additional funds. Schaefer said the reductions would not affect planned tuition increases, but that they would help reduce overall student expenses such as course fees.
"They (university presidents) are working in good faith to reduce costs," Schaefer said.
In order to fund the increases, $12 million was taken out of the Preparing to Care program, which helps students seeking nursing degrees. Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, had previously added the Preparing to Care funds during the House budget process.
Kelly said he agreed with the funding switch, calling it the "right way to go."
The Senate appropriations committee also added $20 million to fund transportation for local school districts. The governor's budget recommendations included a $55 million decrease in transportation for local school districts as part of a 5 percent core reduction from all state departments.
Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield, applauded the efforts to add money for transportation.
"I am thrilled beyond belief," she said.
The Senate appropriations committee will end their work on the budget this week before it proceeds to the Senate floor. They have until May 6 to pass the budget under the Missouri Constitution.