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CONVERSATIONS: Greitens’ proposed budget cuts to higher education

This past week, Gov. Eric Greitens’ budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 generated quite a bit of conversation among Missourians, especially in terms of cuts to higher education.

Greitens proposed an almost $98 million cut, or 10.8 percent, to higher education appropriations across the state. The UM System will be cut by $43 million in Greitens’ proposal, compared to the appropriation from the previous year, while the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will gain almost $55 million in general revenue in Greitens’ proposed budget.

The governor called his budget “common sense” and “conservative,” but some state lawmakers said the higher education cuts are too large. The final state budget must be approved by the House and the Senate.

Missourians weighed in with their thoughts about Greitens allocating funds to other areas instead of higher education and what lawmakers could do to better fund higher education. Comments have been edited for length.

“They proposed new spending on many worthy things without the revenue to back it up. It’s time higher education doesn’t carry the brunt of politicians’ great budget ideas. At some point you cannot expect our universities to keep up on a quality level if you don’t support them.”

– Anne Johnson, Jan. 22, Facebook

“As far as I’m concerned we’ve never disagreed about increasing funding OR about the good ‘return on investment.’ However — again — simply raising taxes and therefore state revenue does not guarantee that some or even MOST of that increase won’t be legislatively directed elsewhere. There are many other claimants, and each has its loyal and seriously vocal followers.”

– Ellis Smith, Jan. 27, Missourian website

“If the kids aren’t educated with general education then higher educating is just a waste of money… Higher educating needs a good base to work with instead of these kids going to college and dropping out and wasting grants and scholarships.”

– Samta Claus, Jan. 23, Facebook

Cutting programs

In response to decreased state funding and decreased university enrollment, UM System President Mun Choi asked for a review of school programs and areas where cuts could be made in the name of efficiency. The task force that was created to carry out this review recommended dozens of programs at MU be closed or combined.

“As a land grant Ph.D. granting institution, agriculture and rural sociology are requisite areas of expertise. Eliminating the Ag Ed Ph.D., and the Rural Soc programs is significantly counter productive. Both are critical to the extension arm of a land grant university.”

– Mary Ratchford Douglass, Jan. 26, Missourian website

“In a state where agriculture is a major industry this is sad news. I assume Dr. Greitens (Mrs) will keep her position at MU?”

– Betty Hotze Cramer, Jan. 26, Facebook

“Several of these are actually going to have no impact. At least one of them is a program that was unnecessarily opened several years back as both an MA and an MS. The department only wanted and used the MA. Just adding some context that the number of active programs they propose to cut is at least just a bit lower.”

– Chelsea Lynn, Jan. 26, Facebook

The impact

One of the main themes in all of these conversations is what the proposed cuts would mean for the state. Here’s what some Missourians had to say:

“Making higher education less and less affordable for all students, especially in-state students, by cutting funding from other sources only results in these Missouri natives leaving the state to study elsewhere — and rarely do they come back. Investing in higher education is an investment in keeping students in state and working for Missouri.”

– Kari Chesney, Jan. 23, Facebook

“Greitens reducing funding to higher education will soon make in state tuition as expensive for college students as paying out-of-state tuition in another state. We have 1 child left who will start college in 2019 and we are looking out of MO for colleges.”

– Barb Scanlan Wyatt, Jan. 23, Facebook

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