UM System must decide what to cut to meet funding gap

Friday, June 17, 2011 | 6:18 p.m. CDT; updated 2:01 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 19, 2011

COLUMBIA — The UM System administration is on a tight deadline to decide what needs to be trimmed to meet new funding cuts imposed by Gov. Jay Nixon.

In addition to the anticipated 7 percent cut in state appropriations, the UM System needs to shave $4.4 million off the 2012 budget.

The new fiscal year starts July 1, meaning decisions must be made within two weeks.

During Friday's meeting of the UM Board of Curators, interim President Steve Owens said every option is still on the table.

That could include a student surcharge, a decrease in financial aid or extra employee contributions to the retirement plan. Extension programs for youth, such as 4-H and the Enterprise Investment Program, are also targeted.

Although a unanimous vote Friday by the board raised the system's salary pool by 2 percent, the item was on the chopping block this week as well.

Board members said Friday that in light of the additional state budget withholding, the money for salary increases could still be at some risk.

Curator Warren Erdman said he hopes Nixon will reverse his stance on the $4.4 million cut.

“One point that I favor is for the governor to release the $4.4 million,” Erdman said, adding that curators were still in talks with Nixon about the state funds. The money is being withheld largely for disaster aid to Missouri's devastated communities.

In other action, the curators voted 7-2 on Friday to close the current retirement plan to those hired after Sept. 30, 2012, and open a new “hybrid plan.”

Although details of a new plan have not been finalized, Friday's vote gives the green light to developing details for approval this fall.

The new plan is expected to combine elements of defined contribution and defined benefits plans. No current employees will be affected.

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