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June 12, 2014 Volume 35, No. 31

Upcoming decisions in Jefferson City to impact MU’s budget

Two bills involving MU building projects await governor action

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin talked to Faculty Council June 5 about the challenges of MU’s fiscal 2015 budget, as well as the unexpected problems of this year’s budget that ends June 30.

In May, Gov. Jay Nixon announced an additional $35 million in withholdings to state funding for public schools and universities. The governor had hoped that the state’s education allocation would receive needed funds from 2013–14 lottery sales and gaming receipts. But the numbers didn’t add up. The May cuts came on the heels of a $22 million withholding from education announced weeks earlier.

Because of withholdings, MU’s state funding loss for fiscal 2014 is about $4 million, Loftin told council members. 

Loftin is working with administrators to figure out where to get the money to make up for the loss of state funds. He is looking at reserves across campus, he said.

Meanwhile, MU’s fiscal 2015 budget could be greatly impacted by actions in Jefferson City in coming weeks. 

Administrators are awaiting Nixon’s actions on the fiscal 2015 budget bills, passed by lawmakers in May and that must be signed by Nixon before July 1. Nixon’s original budget plan announced in January 2014 assumed revenue growth of 5.2 percent; the Missouri House and Senate approved in May a budget based on 4.2 percent revenue growth. 

Both plans now appear to be optimistic as the state is looking at a shortfall of nearly 2 percent from what was budgeted for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, said Marty Oetting, director of University of Missouri System’s Office of Government Relations.

Also, two capital improvement bills passed by lawmakers involving MU building projects await Nixon’s action this month. The projects include $38.5 million from bond proceeds to renovate and expand Lafferre Hall and $10 million from general revenue to match private funds for an applied learning center at the Trulaske College of Business. “It’s hard to make decisions with all the uncertainty,” Loftin said.

The UM System’s fiscal 2015 budget includes the strategic faculty-funding plan, which will finance the hiring of high-caliber faculty. The goal is to increase the quality of research and teaching and MU’s standing in the Association of American Universities.

Money for the plan comes from both state funds and reallocation of 2 percent of the general operating budget. All units, offices and departments will have their budgets cut 2 percent beginning July 1. Some departments and offices have requested a waiver, but all requests have been denied except when it impacted scholarships and campus safety, Loftin said.

At an April 3 meeting, some council members expressed concern over the 2 percent reallocation. Loftin said last week he is creating an advisory committee made up of staff, students and faculty. Members will be charged with examining factors surrounding the reallocations. 

“This will not be a simple group to be on,” Loftin said.