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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

MSU Seeks Building Funds, Increased Appropriations From Legislature

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The Missouri Captiol building in Jefferson City. (Photo credit: jacob_shane via Flickr)

Missouri State University President Clif Smart believes passage of a constitutional amendment limiting the governor’s budget powers could benefit higher education.

In November, voters approved Amendment 10 to the Missouri Constitution, which allows lawmakers to try to override the governor's decisions to freeze or slow spending.

In recent years, Gov. Jay Nixon has withheld money to balance the budget, including from education. Smart thinks there is now potential for the legislature to override any governor’s budget withhold just as they would override a veto.

“So I think it gives us the opportunity to make our case that if the state is short of money that the withhold should come somewhere else. So I would anticipate the potential if there is withholding in the future for us to have a mechanism to try to get that money released,” Smart said.  

Smart says as part of its legislative priorities this year, Missouri State will be seeking the release of funds being withheld from the school’s health program initiatives, which accounts for $1.3 million for fiscal year 2015.

“Even though that was something that was withheld from the last budget year, we will continue to advocate for that, both with the governor’s office and through the legislative process to get that money released.”

Another key priority will be advocating for approval of a proposed general revenue bonding package for new university projects system-wide.

“That would allow us to renovate Hill and Ellis halls, as well as a facility on the West Plains campus and do some life safety improvements - that is clearly number one at the top of our list.”

Additionally, MSU will be pushing for a 3.6 percent increase in higher education appropriations.

Smart says it’s important for school officials to work with local legislative leaders as they prepare their list of priorities before, during and after each session.

“We meet one-on-one with legislators, I interact regularly with the governor’s office, we have a meeting in the fall where we meet with all of our area legislators, we are up in Jeff City every week… and so it’s an ongoing process.”

Gov. Nixon will lay out his proposed budget for this year during Wednesday’s State of the State address. You can hear his speech beginning at 7 p.m., Jan. 21 on KSMU.

Our full conversation with President Clif Smart on this year’s legislative priorities for Missouri State University, as part of our monthly program Engaging the Community, can be heard above.

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