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Officials at Missouri State University say if the state enacts potential budget cuts to higher education, the university will be forced to lay off personnel. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore has details.
The state of Missouri has not asked colleges and universities to make any budget cuts—not yet, at least. But less than three weeks ago, the Missouri Department of Higher Education asked Missouri’s public colleges and universities to submit reports on how they might cut their core budgets by 15, 20 and 25 percent for next year, or Fiscal Year 2010.
The deadline to submit those reports was Thursday.
In its report, MSU says cuts of any of these magnitudes would cause – quote – “substantial pain and losses beyond the University.”
That pain would start, however, with layoffs of faculty and staff. MSU President, Dr. Michael Nietzel, told reporters Thursday afternoon that since 75 percent of the university’s costs currently go toward personnel, this would be unavoidable.
MSU’s report said, in addition, the university would need to drastically reduce or eliminate several programs.
A 25% cut in state funding would exceed the entire budget of any one college at Missouri State University. It would also exceed the total amount of scholarships and financial aid the university provides.
Again, the exercise of submitting the reports doesn’t mean the cuts will happen. But State Senator Gary Nodler, who heads the senate budget appropriations committee, said he’d be surprised if the governor and the legislature don’t have to make significant cuts to state departments across the board—including the Department of Higher Education.
"But, if there's a federal stimulus package, if it takes effect very quickly, if the economy turns more rapidly than it is expected to, there are scenarios by which FY 2010 cuts could be avoided. I don't think they're very likely, but they exist," Nodler said.
Nodler, along with Representative Allen Icet, who chairs the Budget Appropriations Committee in the House, asked all state departments to envision the potential budget cutting scenarios. Nodler said due to the economy, he’s not able to comment the likelihood of whether Missouri’s public colleges and universities will eventually be asked to cut their budgets so sharply.
"That depends on shifts in the economy, and where various departments are on their various schedules of expenditures. Some money can be retrieved, and some can't," he said.
Nodler and Icet will proceed on trying to make up for Missouri’s projected $364 million dollar budget shortfall after Governor-elect Nixon releases his budget proposal in late January.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.