University plans for possible budget cuts

Administration to shuffle top jobs - again

Administration to shuffle top jobs – again

Jessica MacIntosh

Possible budget cuts have Missouri Southern uncertain for the next year.

“It’s just at this point we are at the wait and see mode,” said Dr. Terri Agee, vice president for business affairs. “There is a lot that will be happening over the next few months that is going to shape the funding that we will ultimately receive for the next fiscal year.”

University President Julio León said there are three basic events Southern is going to have to keep an eye on for the next year.

In December, León said the governor and the legislature usually meet to reach a consensus on what the rate of growth in revenues will be for the next year.

“On the basis of that, then they begin to fashion a budget,” he said.

In the beginning of January, the legislature will convene. León said the governor gives his State of the State address to the legislature. It is scheduled for Jan. 11.

“In essence, the governor presents to the legislature his budget proposal for the next fiscal year,” he said.

The last event the University will need to keep its eye on is what will happen during the legislative session.

“It is at that time when we usually begin to have an idea of what the outlook is,” León said. “It will probably be around April or May when we have an idea of where we will be.”

Agee said state funding is about 50 percent of the total revenue stream.

“That’s why it’s very, very important piece of our funding,” she said.

León said the commissioner for higher education sent an e-mail about a couple weeks ago.

“It just said that they themselves had received a request from the office of administration, requesting that institutions explain how they deal with a possible cut in the core budget of about 10 to 12 percent,” León said.

He said the commissioner wanted to receive individual responses from each institution in the state and was going to them together to form one response.

“I think that the general response from all institutions was that given the cuts that we have had before in the last four years,” he said, “given that as a way of responding we have had done a combination of cuts in the budget and tuition increases.”

León said he thinks there was enough publicity around the state with the possibility of budget cuts. He also said the response of the administration was to begin planning.

“While there was no assurance that there would be budget cuts, it was prudent to do some planning ahead of time just in case,” he said.

He said although revenues are coming at a good pace, there are unexpected increases in expenses as well, most of them from the federal level.”That could necessitate some budget cuts, so they wanted to be prepared,” León said.

He said the worst-case scenario would be a cut of about $2.5 million, which is 12 percent.

“If the institution were to make up that $2.5 million through tuition increases exclusively, that would necessitate about a 12-percent increase in tuition,” he said. “We would not want to do that.”

He said there are chances it would be a combination of a tuition increase and additional cuts in the budget.

In the last three years, León said Southern has done well with tuition costs. In 2003, tuition was increased by 2 percent. In 2004, it stayed the same, and in 2005, the tuition was lowered.

León said it would be difficult to have additional budget cuts.

“It’s a little discouraging,” he said.

Agee said she is concerned every year with the funding for higher education.

“The state appropriations do impact the funding here at Missouri Southern when it all works together to determine how we are going to set tuition,” she said. “We’re hoping for a good end result, that the rate of growth and revenues are up and that the shortage is less than what’s kind of being projected right now.”

Agee said the budget is hard to predict.

“Cross your fingers and hope,” she said.

León said he would like to tell students to have faith and confidence.

“We will have their best interest [in mind],” he said.