JEFFERSON CITY — Higher education funds would freeze under the proposed 2006 budget delivered by Gov. Matt Blunt at his State of the State address Wednesday night.
During the speech, Blunt said education is his top priority as governor, and he allocated one of the budget’s largest increases, $170.6 million, to it. The majority of the new funding will go to support elementary and secondary education and their programs.
No significant changes were made in the higher education budget from the previous year.
“A college education is increasingly a requirement for success in the workplace,” Blunt said. “My budget maintains the current level of funding for our state’s colleges and universities.”
The governor’s proposed budget made substantial cuts to other programs, including $231 million from Medicaid and nearly $40 million from the Department of Mental Health.
With all these budget cuts, legislators from both parties said they were pleased the governor maintained the same levels of funding for higher education.
“With all the other cutting, I am pleased higher education will not bear the brunt, as it has for the last several years,” said Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia.
Rep. Edward Robb, R-Columbia, said he expected the governor to freeze higher education funding this year and focus on solving problems in lower education first. He said next year Blunt will be able to allocate more money to the colleges and universities.
“First, we have to stop the bleeding, then we can address the programs that need it most, like rising tuition,” Robb said.
Funding for the Parents as Teachers program increased by $5 million. An extra $6 million will be used to help fund schools educating severely disabled children.