In his State of the State address Jan. 17, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed deep cuts to state funding for higher education and the four-campus University of Missouri System. Although the state's budget in the last two years has also contained cuts to funding for higher education, this year's proposal marks an especially large cut: 12.5 percent to the UM System, or $45 million.
If state lawmakers follow the governor's lead in cutting 12.5 percent in state funding for the university, this action would pose an incredible danger for students. No doubt we’d see higher tuition, likely above the rate of inflation. But we‘d also be paying more for less. Less funding for research and faculty salaries. And less money coming through Columbia’s economy.
Consider a few facts about declining state support for higher education in Missouri:
- That the UM System operates with less state funding than it received in 2001, while educating 17,000 more students
- That the proposed cuts would mean a 25 percent cut in state funding for the university over the past three years
- That, even without the newly-proposed cuts, Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation in state support for higher education
- That these proposed cuts would reduce state funding for higher education to its lowest level since 1997
- That Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, has estimated the cut would result in a loss of $22 million from Columbia’s economy
- That Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has said the cuts could damage the UM System’s reputation as a research university “for decades to come."
- That UM System curators, including Wayne Goode, have publicly said the cuts could result in a tuition increase for students higher than the rate of inflation
- That UM System interim President Steve Owens has expressed his disappointment with the proposal, saying, “It is fair to ask how long we can continue to do more with less."
- That, regarding the proposed cuts, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton has said, “The university has been doing so much with less funding on an ongoing basis. There are limits as to how far we can go."
- That Nikki Krawitz, vice president of finance and administration for the UM System, said in December 2011 that the system was already facing an estimated $78 million budget shortfall in 2013
Another statistic shows an even more troubling trend for UM System funding: Compared to 20 years ago, students pay 21% more of the university’s operations budget (from 27% to 48%), while the state pays 28% less than it did (from 64% to 36%).
If you’re as concerned as the members of the Missouri Students Association are about these deep cuts to our university, sign our online petition or contact your representative or senator in the Missouri General Assembly and voice your opposition to the 12.5 percent cut. You can also make the student voice heard on Twitter by sending @MSA_mizzou a message or using the #MoreForLess hashtag to tell us why you're signing our petition. Let lawmakers know students can't be expected to pay more for less in the next year and that the state budget can’t be balanced on the back of higher education cuts.