CBHE recommends 12.6 percent increase

Dr. Julio León

Dr. Julio León

In a meeting of the Missouri Senate’s Interim Committee on the Cost of a College Education Oct. 18 in the Billingsly Student Center, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education announced its recommendation for a 12.6 percent increase over a two year period in funding for higher education.

“(This is a) critical needed increase,” said Dr. Barbara Dixon, president of the Council on Public Higher Education. “This is a good time to reinvest for higher education. It is a public good and good for the state.”

Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) said historically this is the first time the CBHE has agreed unanimously on the institutions’ requests. He said he is optimistic about the increase.

“I am hopeful that he (Gov. Matt Blunt) will adopt it and then it becomes his proposal,” he said.

“I am very pleased with the recommended increase in funding and hope it becomes a reality,” said University President Julio León.

León said the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority has brought funding for higher education to the forefront.

“I believe of the discussions that have taken place regarding the need for capital improvement people have realized that the past five years higher education has perhaps been hit a little too hard,” León said.

León believes with the discussions about the MOHELA issue there is awareness for funding for higher education. He said Blunt has helped with the situation.

“When he came in, he kept funding level instead of cutting it even more and then this year he increased it by 2 percent,” he said.

León said because of the hard hit in the past five years, there is a realization for a restoration to funding for higher education.

“For instance, right now the funding that is available to higher education has not even returned to the level that we had in fiscal years 2001-2003,” he said. “We are still not back up to where we were five years ago.”

León said the University is at the bottom for funding it receives on a per student basis.

“There is a need to make an adjustment so that our funding on a per student basis is more in line with the funding per student that other institutions receive,” he aid. “It is a question of equity.”

León said there is a reason for that funding.

“For instance, a four-year university in another part of the state should be getting $1,000 or $2,000 in some cases more per student funding than a student who attends Missouri Southern,” he said.

León said he is confident the University is going to receive a good increase in funding.

“The governor has already said there was a need to do something to higher education,” he said. “I know that our representatives and senators are working very hard on it. I believe the outlook is a little more promising for next year.”

Having received $21,534,000 this year, León said in August, the University submits a funding request for the next fiscal year to the CBHE.

“We also send copies of our request to the legislature and to the governor’s office because they both have to be prepared,” he said.

León said once the CBHE receives the request, it develops its recommendation for each institution in October.

“The recommendation then goes to the governor’s office and to the legislature,” he said.

León said the governor and the legislature have two requests – one from the University and one from the CBHE.

“They are usually not the same,” he said.

In January, the governor’s office uses the two requests and makes an outlook for the state. León said the governor then makes his own recommendation in the State of the State address delivered at the beginning of the legislative session.

“That’s when the process begins in the House of Representatives,” he said.

León said committees meet to discuss the requests in which there are three – from the University, the CBHE and the governor.

“The committees can change and they end up with a totally different recommendation,” he said. “It all depends on the political compromise.”

By May, a decision must be reached. León said not only does the House of Representatives have its version, but also the Senate does.

“They will pass different versions of this and then they will compromise,” he said. “Once they agree they send that package to the governor.”