JEFFERSON CITY - The University of Missouri's budget is for all practical purposes set for next year -- and it's about $2 million less than what Missouri House members wanted to spend.
The chairman of the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee, Rep. Scott Lakin, D-Kansas City, pointed a finger at the Senate when he was asked what had happened to the House's position.
"We go over to the Senate, and what's their position is their position, and what's our position is negotiable," Lakin said Tuesday morning during debate.
The House earlier this year had proposed adding $2.6 million to the governor's request for a $395 million operating budget for the four-campus system. Lakin said he was able to add money and still balance the higher education budget because the House committee members shifted money around from other areas.
The Senate, however, cut out this increase. When members from both chambers met last week to iron out their differences between the two versions of the bill, the Senate position won, and UM got about $700,000 more than what the governor had requested, instead of the $2.6 million the House had proposed.
Sen. Mike Lybyer, D-Huggins, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the Senate had to make sure it balanced the state's entire budget. Because the House had proposed spending more than the governor requested in areas other than higher education, he said some funding requests had to be cut.
"If we take the best of the House and the best of the Senate, we'll go over budget," Lybyer said.
The final budget is nine percent more than UM is getting this year, said system lobbyist Jim Snider. Snider said half this increase is for inflation costs and the other half for the Mission Enhancement program.
"I'm very pleased," Snider said of the budget. "I felt like they understand what we are trying to do, and they basically approved it."
The bill next goes to the Senate for final approval, then to Gov. Mel Carnahan for his signature or veto.