State budget more than anticipated

During the spring semester, Truman State University officials were bracing for the worst-case scenario as another budget crisis loomed, but a shake-up in the governor’s office resulted in restoration of University funding to last year’s level.

In January 2018, former Gov. Eric Greitens proposed cutting Truman’s core state funding by 7.7 percent — or about $3 million — for fiscal year 2019, which began July 1. However, after Greitens left office in June, the Missouri General Assembly and Gov. Mike Parson passed a budget restoring Truman’s appropriation to the same level of fiscal year 2018, about $39.5 million. A large portion of the restored funding will go toward raises for faculty and staff.

Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said even though state funding was restored to last year’s levels, department cutbacks made in preparation for the large funding reduction will remain in effect. However, faculty and staff across the board will get a 3 percent raise after no University personnel were given raises last year.

Rector said the rest of the extra state money will go toward key areas where it is needed most, including maintenance and repair, which took a large cut in fiscal year 2018. The University will keep some of the money in reserve in case the state unexpectedly withholds money throughout the year, but Rector said it’s hard to predict whether that will happen.

Rector also said the University will raise starting salaries for office staff and custodians by about 20 cents per hour in an effort to attract more workers. He said the University is working toward paying all employees starting salaries of at least $10 per hour.

“All of the office staff … they’re above that, but custodial is still lower,” Rector said. “But that’s the goal, which I hope we can hit next year.”

Rector said despite the restoration in state funding, the Greenwood Autism Center project is still stalled because the governor withheld one-third of the budget for refurbishing the building. He said this funding might be restored when the General Assembly meets for its veto session in September, but until then the University is waiting to move forward with the project.