UM curators approve fiscal 2014 budget request

Friday, July 27, 2012 | 1:42 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The UM System Board of Curators approved a state funding request on Friday that is millions of dollars more than it acknowledges it is likely to receive.

The curators unanimously approved a $417.9 million core operating budget request via teleconference with little discussion. The request now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon as he prepares his fiscal 2014 budget proposal.

Nikki Krawitz, UM System vice president for finance and administration, presented the request but told curators it probably wouldn't matter, as Nixon has said he will hold the four-campus system's budget at the amount it received this year –  $396 million for fiscal 2013. 

Krawitz said the "struggling economy" and only "modest revenue growth" are the reasons for the funding freeze. 

Krawitz added that state officials are already anticipating a total $220 million budget gap in the next fiscal year because this year's budget relied on money that will not be available in 2014. Missouri's public universities were the primary beneficiaries of  a one-time fund of $40 million  gained from a court settlement against the country's five largest mortgage companies.

Higher education spending accounts for $1.2 billion of the state's $24 billion budget. 

State revenue has been struggling since the 2008 financial crisis and economic recession. For fiscal 2013, state officials are projecting a 3.9 percent growth in the state's general revenue fund, which includes personal and corporate income taxes as well as sales tax revenue. 

Slow revenue growth and increasing Medicaid costs have forced lawmakers to cut other areas in the budget, including higher education. In fiscal 2010, the UM System received $475 million from the state. 

As a result of the reduction in state aid, the UM System is raising tuition. In-state tuition based on 12 credit hours will rise from $3,129 to $3,282. 

Final estimates of fiscal 2014 revenue won't be available until December, and Nixon will release his proposed budget in January. The Missouri General Assembly will then have its turn.

For fiscal 2013, the assembly worked to reverse a planned 15 percent cut in funding to public universities and chose to hold the higher education budget flat at fiscal 2012 levels. 

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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