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Feb. 13, 2014 Volume 35, No. 19

5.2 percent funding proposal increase might be a challenge, lawmakers say

Legislators praise importance of a college degree in today’s job market

Five local legislators discussed the state higher education budget at the 12th annual  Mizzou Alumni Association Boone County Legislative Forum Jan. 30 at Harpo’s.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, opened the discussion by saying that Gov. Jay Nixon’s proposal of a 5.2 percent increase in higher education state funding will be difficult to fund. He said the appropriation would have to be trimmed. “A lot of things were promised in that budget that can’t be funded,” Schaefer said.

The four representatives shared Schaefer’s view, but also spoke of the value of higher education.

Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, and Rep. John Wright, D-Columbia, agreed that a proper budget plan could be a solution for students’ success in higher education and beyond.

“Young people graduating college are 50 percent less likely to go to jail than those who dropped out,” Wright said.

Webber added, “Investment in education is a choice for people who try to better themselves.”

But both were skeptical about where the money would come from. Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said that higher education is important for future job seekers. He asked for community support on the education budget. 

“The budget issue doesn’t mean we can’t have a solid year,” Rowden said. “I’m very excited about it.”

— JeongAn Choi