JEFFERSON CITY— Several higher education initiative programs in Missouri could lose all state funding after a recommendation made by the Department of Higher Education on Monday.
One program that faces funding elimination is the MU Cooperative Medicine Program, located in Springfield.
This comes after Gov. Eric Greitens’ recommendation to cut state funding for the higher education programs in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2019, which begins July 1. He recommended cutting all $5 million in state funding for the Cooperative Medicine Program.
Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education, and Jeff Barlow, assistant commissioner, made recommendations for the department’s fiscal year 2019 appropriations to the House Budget Committee on Monday and expressed agreement with the governor’s recommendations.
“When I look at the future, when I look at the present, I don’t see a lot of prospect for additional funding for higher education,” Mulligan said. “What that means is that our institutions, and ways of coordinating, are faced with increasingly challenging choices about what we do and do not do. So it is an extremely bitter pill to have to swallow to consider the possibility of discontinuing the program so you can support another one.
“But that’s the position that most of our (university) presidents find themselves in ... we’re simply faced with the situation where revenue is not keeping up in a way that allows us to add on other higher education priorities without considering or reconsidering our old priorities.”
Members of the budget committee expressed concern about eliminating school initiative programs, while Mulligan said the department’s main concern is to keep as much of its core funding as it can.
Rep. Curtis Trent, R-Springfield, questioned whether there was unnecessary spending within core funding that could be eliminated before taking away funds for the Springfield-based program.
“I would strongly suggest that a program like this is incredibly valuable to economic development, to serving the needs of the community and a greater value than some other parts of the core (funding), and I think that should be looked at,” Trent said.
This potential elimination of the medical program comes in addition to Greitens’ proposed $98 million cut to higher education, including a $43 million cut to the University of Missouri System compared to appropriations the previous year. Higher education was cut $159 million the previous fiscal year.
UM System President Mun Choi told a House education appropriations committee in late January that the UM System has “made dramatic cuts, and that further cuts would be very damaging to our core operation.”
Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, said higher education institutions have worked well with the budget committee in finding resources to cut.
“They have cut those programs, they’ve done what we asked them to do. Now it’s time for us to do the responsible thing that we’re supposed to do,” Lichtenegger said.
“We don’t have workforce development without our post-secondary education, and I think that’s something we better look at. Because if we want companies to come here, then we have to have that workforce development in place and at the rate we’re going right now, that’s not going to happen.”
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