Commissioner predicts downplay in higher ed cuts from legislature

Jan 5, 2012

The head of Missouri’s Higher Education Department has a good-news prediction for the state’s colleges and universities: a downplay in funding cuts from legislators. By Kirk Wayman in Maryville.

Commissioner David Russell predicts lawmakers this session will have to cut five to seven hundred million dollars from the upcoming state budget. He also predicts it will be about 15 billion dollars this year- about five billion less than previous years. But after years of withholdings, he thinks lawmakers may downplay cutting much more state funding from colleges and universities: "I think they’ve actually come to have a very high degree of confidence in higher education to deal with its own issues, to figure out ways to get through these difficult times year in and year out.  So I don’t think we’re going to be the center of attention during this next session, but I can assure you that those of us in Jefferson City are going to look for every opportunity we can to make sure they know what our needs are and to help them as they try to set new policies that effect us."

Russell points to last year’s session, when legislators argued over how to reduce cuts to higher education even further than the Governor’s budget proposed.