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Feb. 10, 2011 Volume 32, No. 19

As lawmakers converge, MU budget picture starts to come into focus


Deaton: Pay raises are ”top priority” in FY 2012

Mizzou’s budget situation for fiscal year 2012 is still up in the air. However, early indications are that the projected funding shortfall, while considerable, might be smaller than administrators feared.

Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, which starts July 1, included a 7 percent reduction in state funds for higher education. That’s less than the 10 percent to 15 percent some MU officials were bracing for, but it still puts the campus in a $34.3 million hole.

To help plug it, University of Missouri Board of Curators approved MU’s request to raise tuition 6.5 percent, the campus’s first tuition increase in three years, and required fees by 1.1 percent. That will generate $13 million.

Further help comes from Mizzou Advantage, which has returned $4 million to the campus’s general operating budget. The money — a one-time transfer — is savings generated by putting off new hires that would have been funded by the initiative, as well as a delay in funding graduate assistant and professional development awards.

So what’s the bottom line for the 2011-12 school year? A projected shortfall of $21 million. That will mean more belt tightening from a campus that hasn’t seen a pay raise in three years and that slashed expenses by $18 million in the last two years.

“It will still be painful,” said Tim Rooney, MU’s budget officer. “There will still be cuts that have to be made, expenses will have to be reduced, positions will have to be frozen in order to balance the budget.”

Rooney said the actual shortfall depends on three variables. First, lawmakers have to agree not to cut higher education funding more than what Nixon has proposed. Second, under provisions of SB 389, the proposed tuition increase requires approval from the Missouri Department of Higher Education. And third, the projected shortfall includes a 2 percent salary increase for faculty and staff; curators won’t take that up until they meet in Rolla March 21-22.

MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton said the administration is committed to a salary increase. “Our faculty and staff are some of the best in the nation, taking on extra duties and responsibilities during the past two years despite receiving no pay increases,” he said. “A top priority this year as we plan the budget is to ensure that faculty and staff receive pay increases.”

Half of the $4 million from Mizzou Advantage will be used to bolster financial aid, which suffered a shortfall due to increased enrollments last fall. The other $2 million will be used to offset some of the projected 2012 funding gap.

“We do not see these savings as ultimately damaging Mizzou Advantage,” Foster said. “Nevertheless, more savings will be needed, and all areas of the university are being scrutinized for potential contributions.”

The shortfall also means deferred maintenance and repair needs of MU buildings will continue to grow. Rooney said the campus has balanced the budget in recent years by reducing the annual maintenance and repair budget from 1.5 percent of total building value to less than 1 percent.

Deferred maintenance needs at MU total $187 million. Rooney said the campus should be spending $10 million to $15 million a year more than it currently budgets for basic upkeep of its buildings.

“That’s a part of this gap,” he said. “And if we continue to have that gap, we’re not going to be able to address maintenance and repair.”