JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri legislature passed more than $889 million in budget appropriations for higher education in the state. The appropriation includes more than $413 million for the University of Missouri System — a 2.7 increase from the current fiscal year.
The bill faced some opposition in the House, where it passed 92-64. In the Senate, however, the bill passed with little resistance — only one senator voted against it.
Still, state Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, said the appropriations were insufficient.
“The amount that was appropriated here is basically the same amount that was appropriated in fiscal year 1999,” Harris said, “So it takes us back to eight years ago.”
Harris said the appropriations did not take into consideration inflation since 1999.
Harris said he was concerned that higher education institutions would have to raise tuition to make up for lack of appropriations. He said that the highest funding for higher education was under former Gov. Bob Holden for fiscal 2002, but Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia, said that the following year Holden cut $80 million in higher education appropriations.
“Representative Harris says a lot of things, and I would disagree with 99.9 percent of everything he says,” Robb said. “It is true that the level of funding is no higher than fiscal year 1999, but it’s certainly not the fault of the Republican majority at this time.”
Robb said higher education institutions know that there are a lot of competing demands on state revenues.
“Higher education unfortunately has borne the brunt of many of the mistakes that have been made by the state in the past,” Robb said. “I think (this bill) is a first step in alleviating some of the problems.”