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Missouri College & Universities Express Frustration After Gov. Greitens Unveils Proposed Budget

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Joplin, MO -

Missouri Colleges and universities express frustration over Gov. Eric Greitens' proposed budget for next year.  The Governor unveiled his 2019 fiscal year budget proposal yesterday.

The fiscal year begins in July, and the Governor is proposal higher education as a whole take a $70 million hit.

MSSU's Board of Governors voted last year to raise tuition by 2.1%, a $5 per credit hour increase for in-state tuition.  This year, MSSU is preparing students for another increase.

"After 10 years of eroding support..." says MSSU president Dr. Alan Marble...

...This year....

"It's really rough," says Marble.

But Marble says Gov. Greitens' statewide budget proposal for next year leaves MSSU receiving less state funding than it did in 2001.

"We need to find new revenue," says Marble.

Gov. Greitens' proposal takes away from MSSU $2.4 million out of a total of $23.6 million allocated from the state.  Marble says it's time to stop relying as much on lawmakers.

"It's probably going to be in the form of a tuition hike," says Marble.  "We've held tuition lower than anyone in the state for a long time.  We need to catch up a little bit."

"I live in Mt. Vernon, which is in between Joplin and Springfield," says MSSU student Jennifer Buffington.

Buffington and other MSSU students say an increase in tuition may make them look for other higher ed options.

"My mom's highest education was high school," says MSSU student Daycah Kelly.  "Just seeing how she struggled, it just pushed me even more to know I did not want to do that.  I needed a higher education."

"When I was a student, the state provided about 70 percent of funds to operate this university, all state universities.  Now we're down under 30 percent," says Marble.

Marble hopes lawmakers read this warning:

"We're at bone level, so any other cuts would be something like amputations rather than cuts.  When state support is below the 2001 level in real dollars, not in inflation adjusted dollars, something has to change.  We didn't have as many students in 2001.  We have many more students now," says Marble.

Crowder College officials say Gov. Greitens' proposal would also hurt their place of higher education.  In a statement:

"Under the Governor's proposal, higher education will experience a 7.73% cut to our core funding.  This cut is in addition to the 10% reduction in our state appropriation in this fiscal year. This continued disinvestment in higher education is disappointing, and I believe, damaging to the economy of our state.  This cut in funding will force Crowder College to reduce programs and services that are vital to our students, and in turn, to our area employers.   

Last year, Crowder College graduated 1,118 students with degrees and certificates.  A continued decline in public funding makes our job of providing affordable, quality education to the citizens of Southwest Missouri challenging."

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