The Missouri House of Representatives passed a plan that would reverse the $68 million cut to higher education funding proposed by Gov. Eric Greitens in exchange for promises from universities to cap tuition increases at 1 percent.
The House passed a budget plan of $27.8 billion for the 2019 fiscal year, which includes restoring funding for higher education. The budget includes a $99 million increase in funding for K-12 schools and an additional $163 million for the Department of Transportation. If the Senate passes the budget and the governor signs, the budget for the 2019 fiscal year will go into effect July 1.
Missouri Treasurer Eric Schmitt said the General Assembly moved outside the Governor’s recommendation, but the process of passing a budget allows for different inputs and priorities to be upheld by the representatives.
Schmitt said there might be long-term challenges in the future because of a loss in revenue and other programs, like Medicaid, increasingly using more funds.
“I think long-term, coming to grips with the challenges that are faced, as I mentioned with Medicaid as it continues to become a bigger and bigger part of the state budget, is a challenge,” Schmitt said. “There are some structural things that really need some reform. Medicaid reform, and I think pension reform, would serve us very well and provide some more flexibility when it comes to issues like education.”
Schmitt said Gov. Greitens’ proposal to cut $68 million from higher education was a result of negotiation, but ultimately it is the General Assembly that produces the budget. If the budget is passed, it is possible for the governor to withhold or restrict spending, depending on how state revenue comes in throughout the fiscal year, to keep the budget balanced.
Schmitt said he assumes the governor and the General Assembly will continue discussions about the budget moving forward.
“My guess is, between now and when they pass the budget about six weeks from now, there will be a lot of those discussions,” Schmitt said. “They are still pretty early in the process.”
For more information about the House’s passed budget, pick up a copy of The Index on April 12.