Nixon Announces Cuts to Higher Education

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JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon announced cuts to higher education for the third straight year Friday, restricting about one percent of funding for fiscal year 2013.

The elimination of $8.8 million for colleges and universities accounts for more than half of Nixon's $15 million in overall cuts to the budget. He criticized the General Assembly for transferring funds from early childhood education and disaster relief to higher education, calling his budget an "initial step to keep this budget balanced.

"There were areas where the legislature failed to continue funding for critically important programs," Nixon said. "Cutting newborn screenings, early childhood education and disaster recovery and moving those funds to higher education is not the right path for our state."

Nixon, who also said he vetoed three minor programs accounting for about $240,000 in the budget, said the cuts were necessary because of bad revenue projections by the legislature. He said the budget that lawmakers sent to his office would actually create a $50 million shortfall, accusing the General Assembly of relying on $35 million in lottery funds. Nixon said he did not believe the lottery revenue would actually materialize, and he said the state also still has financial obligations to pay for Joplin relief.

Nixon said the General Assembly's budget was "out-of-balance by $50 million," but his cuts account for $15 million of that shortfall. Citing recent economic growth in Missouri and a drop in the unemployment rate, Nixon said he expects the state's recovery to help make up the extra $35 million.

If the economy does not improve as he expects, however, Nixon did not offer a plan to make further cuts. He said he could not identify any specific programs in danger of cuts, and he instead stood by the cuts he announced on Friday.

"I think people can see from what I've done today what the road map is forward," Nixon said. "My hope and expectations is that we continue to see positive economic growth."

"It is what it is, we are where we are."

The budget for fiscal year 2013 takes effect July 1.