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Colleges to get boost

Budget allots $20 million more for higher education
Thursday, April 15, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:02 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

WHAT HAPPENED

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to give an additional $20 million to higher education Wednesday. Of that, the UM system would receive slightly more than $9 million.

The committee also passed next year’s budget and sent it to the Senate floor. Exact numbers for the committee’s budget were not yet available, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chair John Russell, R-Lebanon, said the budget total is “in the same range” as the budget passed by the House.

Under the Senate committee plan, secondary and elementary education would receive about $13 million less in general revenue then it would under the House budget.

WHAT IT MEANS

UM system spokesman Joe Moore said it’s too early to know how the money would be used.

He said he takes the additional money as a promising sign of the state reinvesting in higher education.

“We would hope that would mean we’re beginning to see what we hope to be a trend in that direction,” he said.

Moore said the UM system has suffered from cuts and withholdings totaling $148 million over the past three budget years and could have trouble continuing its educational mission if the trend is not reversed.

Russell said higher than expected revenue collections would help make the extra $20 million for higher education possible.

Sen. Wayne Goode, D-St. Louis, said the budget is closer to being balanced than the one passed by the legislature last year. But, at the moment, it could spend more money than the state will have.

“The appropriations are a stretch,” Goode said.

State revenue growth and the possible passage of bills that would increase revenue could put the number within reach, he said.

WHAT’S NEXT

Higher education funding can still change. Next, the bill heads to the Senate floor, where more changes can be made. Russell said he expects the bills to come up for debate on the Senate floor early next week.

If passed by the full Senate, members from the House and Senate will resolve differences between their versions of the bills in a conference committee. Funding can be added or subtracted during conference committee as well.


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