Boone County lawmakers respond to budget

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JEFFERSON CITY - Several mid-Missouri lawmakers are against Governor Eric Greitens’ proposed higher education cuts.

The governor outlined his proposed budget at a news conference Monday evening and said the administration had to make some tough choices. The budget outline suggested cutting more than $68 million from higher education institutions.

Greitens said because of the increase in money spent on health care, “We have to tighten up in other areas of government and spend less money.”

The University of Missouri System in a statement said if this reduction goes through, the system would suffer a total of $71 million in state cuts during the past three years. It said this will put $38 million at risk through performance funding.

“We recognize and appreciate the hard work of our elected leaders in addressing the fiscal challenges facing the state. As the largest public institution of higher learning in Missouri, we’ll also contribute our share to address these fiscal challenges,” MU leadership said.

Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said in a statement these budget cuts hinder Missouri’s ability to compete.

“We cannot continue to balance the budget on the backs of students,” Rowden said. “They are the future workers and job creators Missouri desperately needs to cultivate.”

Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, said he is concerned to see another year of double digit budget cuts to higher education.

“I will do everything I can to make sure we fight to restore some of the proposed cuts to make sure we can reduce those cuts,” Kendrick said.

However, he did not provide a clear solution to help balance the budget.

“Across the board unfortunately we’re scraping the bottom on our public funding, so there’s just not a lot of fat left in the budget,” Kendrick said. “We’re going to dig into the budget and try to get a better understanding of how some money can be moved around to put some money back into higher education.”

Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, said she understands higher education is important to people in her district. She said she wants time to look through the budget and analyze it before making any decisions.

"It would be nice if it was just a simple as being able to kind of just pull things and have that, but it is a process, so I’m fully engaged in that process and taking input from constituents in the district,” Walsh said.

Walsh said the budget is an ongoing conversation.

“The way that the budget process works is that the books are four feet tall,” Walsh said. “I’m going down and getting hard copies because I want to be able to take notes and actually go through that page by page.”

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