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A resolution signing Monday in Springfield by officials at Missouri’s two largest universities also served as another call by Gov. Jay Nixon that legislators uphold his veto of HB 253, just two days before their annual veto session. KSMU’s Scott Harvey has more.
Nixon was joined by MSU President Clif Smart and University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, who signed a resolution pledging that the schools will work together, and with health care providers Mercy Springfield and CoxHealth, to train more health care professionals.
Nixon signed a budget that includes $10 million to help the University of Missouri School of Medicine to increase its medical student class size and create a clinical campus in Springfield. $1.3 million was dedicated to help MSU establish an occupational therapy program. But he says there’s a “dark cloud” that remains over this funding.
“Because of the potential for a $1.2 billion hit to the state budget this year if House Bill 253 became law, I restricted $400 million in spending in June. That included the funding for the programs we’re discussing here today,” Nixon said.
If his veto of the income tax cut bill is sustained, Nixon says this strategic investment by the two schools can move forward.
President Clif Smart says he’s optimistic that funding will be restored to both the University of Missouri and Missouri State, noting that he’s received commitments from two local lawmakers who will vote with the Governor. Smart added that if the override is sustained, he hopes legislators from both sides of the aisle can find a solution to reasonable tax reform that has economic benefits for everyone.
“Missouri State University is not against reducing taxes; is not against tax credit reform at all. It’s just that this bill, the way it was written, was very worrisome, and that’s why we thought we had to take a stand,” said Smart.
Some 4,000 students are in the College of Health and Human Services at MSU, an increase of about 1,000 from five years ago. According to Smart, there is a shortage of health care professionals in southwest Missouri, and all of these students can find good-paying jobs in the field upon graduation.
HB 253 was among 29 vetoed this year by the Governor. Missouri lawmakers convene for a session Wednesday dedicated to overriding vetoes.