JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon promised a room full of leaders from public universities and colleges across the state Monday that he would increase funding for higher education in his next budget.
“My fiscal year 2015 budget will increase funding for public colleges and universities — and increase it substantially,” Nixon said.
Nixon declined to put a specific number on the increase. He said his administration would consider the economy's performance and revenue projections before developing a specific proposal.
“We want to be aggressive with that funding this year,” Nixon said. “(The schools) have all over the past few years had to deal with managing their various responsibilities with extremely tight resources.”
Nixon also promised changes to financial aid and scholarship programs, with an eye toward retaining Missouri's best students in the hope that they would work and live in the state after graduating.
MU Provost Brian Foster said he was pleased that the governor emphasized the importance of higher education, but he said the conversation was from a "20,000 feet perspective" and more specifics were needed.
“His commitment — assuming it all comes true — means we’ll see improvement in our fiscal state,” Foster said. “We still need to see the details. ... It's been a while since we've been able to have a positive view, so it's good news.”
At the meeting, Nixon also said that increased resources would bring increased responsibilities, highlighting the need for colleges and universities to keep tuition costs down and to meet performance measures developed by each institution.
The governor took the opportunity to thank the audience of higher education officials for their support of his push to sustain his veto of HB 253, a tax cut bill. Opponents of the bill said it would have stripped funding from public schools. Nixon warned that similar battles likely lay ahead.
Supervising editor is Gary Castor.