Truman impacted by Greitens’ recommendations

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens released his recommendations for the 2019 fiscal year budget Monday.

Within the governor’s recommended budget, $1.1 billion is allocated to the Department of Higher Education. This includes $678.4 million in core funding to Missouri’s 10 four-year public colleges and universities. Under this recommendation, including standard withholdings, Truman State University would receive a reduction of 7.7 percent in core funding from the previous year.

Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said the University expected a cut but was only informed last week to expect a cut of this magnitude. Rector said the governor almost always withholds an extra 3 percent of each state university’s core funding, which would bring Truman’s core funding down to $36.4 million under the current proposal. This would be a reduction of $3 million from fiscal year 2018.

A new, key feature of the governor’s budget proposal is the withholding of an additional 10 percent of each university’s core funding to be released if each institution meets six performance goals set by the state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Rector said this is different from previous years in that meeting goals in the past meant receiving additional funding instead of having withheld funds released. The six performance goals focus on career placement outcomes, degrees granted, success on senior tests, core expenditures on instruction, the increase in the University’s payroll, and the change in net tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates. Rector said the University expects to meet all the performance goals, and have the full funding released, but the final results have not yet been announced.

Rector said Truman is exploring multiple strategies to deal with the possible funding shortage. He said representatives from the University would be testifying at an appropriations hearing at the State Capitol next week. He also said there has not been any discussion of another surcharge.

“Higher ed’s going to work with the General Assembly and the State [Representatives] to try to get some money put back in,” Rector said. “It might work, it might not.”

Rector also said a bill has been introduced in the Missouri General Assembly to raise the tuition cap currently in place on all state universities. He said the cap is based on the change in the consumer price index, and the change for this year is expected to be between 1.5-2 percent.

“The state does have a revenue problem,” Rector said. “They cut the tax rate, and so, there’s lower tax revenue coming in.”

Rector said most university presidents think they need the increased flexibility to raise tuition above the cap, but institutions recognize they must be responsible when raising tuition because it heavily impacts students. However, he said some institutions might face hard decisions about raising tuition.

Rector said University President Sue Thomas is planning to discuss the budget and possible plans to address reductions at the All University Address 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13 in the Student Union Building Georgian Rooms.

In an email to staff and faculty, Thomas said the University has been working throughout the past few years to prepare for a monetary challenge. Additionally, Thomas reiterated that all current estimates point toward Truman meeting all six performance goals.

“While this recommendation is very distressing, please keep in mind that the Governor’s recommendation is the first step in the state’s budget process and legislative consideration of the recommendation will now begin,” Thomas said in the email. “We will be actively engaged during the legislative session.”