The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

State News

April 7, 2010

Missouri: Gov. Nixon affirms support for tuition freeze

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has no plans to sit idly while lawmakers consider whether to preserve a tuition freeze deal he assembled before the state’s dire financial status was fully known.

Speaking Wednesday at the University of Missouri’s flagship campus, Nixon said the state’s public colleges and universities “should be rewarded for coming forward” last fall in a bid to stave off further cuts.

“I’ll do everything within my power — and I don’t consider that power insubstantial — to make sure we live up to that deal,” he said.

The agreement, which is subject to legislative approval, would freeze tuition at public campuses for the next academic year in exchange for no more than $50 million in cuts to state funding for higher education.

On Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed a $65 million cut. Nixon says he’s hopeful the lesser reduction will be restored by the full Senate or during negotiations with the House, which kept the tuition deal intact in its proposed budget.

He reiterated his call to equalize state scholarships for students at private colleges who are eligible to receive more money than their public school counterparts. Nixon has also suggested eliminating such scholarships, which would save the state $50 million.

Nixon’s campus appearance was intended as a public update on his efforts to “right-size and refocus” state government through cuts of nearly $126 million and the elimination of 1,000 state jobs announced in March. He offered similar updates Tuesday at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and later Wednesday at Washington University in St. Louis.

The emergency cuts were needed to plug an expected $500 million shortfall in the 2011 budget released in January, Nixon said.

But when it came time for audience questions, the only topic was the tuition freeze.

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