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Feb. 2, 2012 Volume 33, No. 18

Legislators rouse alumni to action over state funding cuts


Reps. propose raising cigarette tax

Columbia legislators railed against state higher education cuts at the 10th annual Legislative Forum on Higher Education Jan. 26 at Harpo’s.

Legislators encouraged alumni to contact their representatives in order to put pressure on Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal to cut 12.5 percent of appropriations to public universities and colleges for the fiscal year 2013.

“You should be livid about what’s cut now,” Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, told a crowd of about 90. “It’s a devastating cut for the university.”

Reps. Mary Still, D-Columbia, and Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said that, rather than cut higher education funds to help balance the budget, the state needs to increase the cigarette tax and the corporate tax.

“There is no redeeming value in having the lowest cigarette tax in the country,” Still said. “We can add $400 million in revenue in one year by having a reasonable tax.”

Still also proposed a tax on out-of-state Internet sales from Missouri businesses to raise funds. Currently, businesses are required only to collect sales taxes if they sell to customers within a state.

Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, told alumni not to be timid in their fight against the funding cuts when contacting officials.

“We have to be lions,” said Webber, who is attending MU law school. “Lambs are getting eaten this year.”

The College of Arts & Science Alumni Organization and the Mizzou Legislative Network sponsored the forum.