JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate passed the 2012 education budget Wednesday evening after finding additional funding for higher education.
An extra $20 million will be divided among all of the state's public colleges and universities; in order to fund this increase, $12 million will be taken from the Preparing to Care program, which helps students seeking nursing degrees.
The extra $20 million will reduce the 7 percent cut to higher education proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon to 4.8 percent. MU spokesman Christian Basi said he couldn't comment on how the budget changes will affect the university because MU doesn't comment on pending legislation.
"The university presidents are working in good faith to reduce costs," said Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia.
The Senate adopted Schaefer's budget plans, which were approved by the budget committee last week.
Another change to the state's education budget includes an additional $20 million for local school district transportation. Last year, Nixon reduced transportation funds for all state departments by 5 percent for 2011. The Senate added transportation funds after making cuts in other areas of the budget.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, voted against appropriations bills, saying he doesn't agree with the means the state is using to create a balanced budget.
"We are going to have to come to terms with ... what I will call a hole in our budget when the federal money runs out," Crowell said.
There are several areas of Missouri's 2012 budget — including the funding for local school districts — that include one-time money from the federal government. Schaefer said that's a problem that will be addressed next year after legislators have a better estimate on the size of the budget gap.
Both appropriations bills passed with large bipartisan support. All appropriations bills will return to the House, where changes made by the Senate must be approved before the governor can sign the budget.