Again, we apologize to Roger Waters and his band mates. But right now, it truly does make the Missouri higher education world go ‘round.
Yesterday, we gave you the numbers on appropriations this year (FY13) thus far in the process and gave you historicals. We also gave you comparables by listing the figures for Missouri Southern’s sister school, Missouri Western.
Yesterday, the Missouri House of Representatives passed with a voice vote all 13 state appropriations bills. Including HB 2003, the one funding higher education. Those bills still require a roll-call vote in the House, then they are off to the Senate.
And that is where it will get tricky.
You see to arrive at the proposed appropriations the House passed, it eliminated $28 million in funding for a program that serves blind Missourians. Gov. Jay Nixon is pissed about that cut. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
What about the Senate?
They are likely to take this up early next week. And the bill will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee where it will likely get a chilly reception.
The Columbia Missourian is reporting that Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) isn’t happy with his GOP friends cutting the program, either. Mayer doesn’t sit on that committee, but he has a lot of clout.
Here is where it gets fun. We have someone on that committee.
Ron Richard (R-Joplin) is on the Appropriations Committee. Will Richard try to restore the program for the blind at the expense of higher ed, screwing MSSU? Or will he cut a social service program for the blind, 70 percent of whom are unemployed?
We wouldn’t want this choice, either. Welcome to the NFL, Ron.
So how did we get here?
Well, we have a Republican General Assembly that refuses to raise taxes one iota. And we have a Democratic governor that will not let colleges and universities raise tuition. Something’s gotta give.
What is probably going to give is funding for higher education. It is an election year and no way is Nixon going to sign a budget that picks on blind people. Nor are these Senators. We hope the House had its heart in the right place and didn’t just do this knowing it would be undone just to tell higher ed that they “tried.”
Nixon will argue that the $40 million he restored to his original budget proposal softened the blow. But when the blow is crippling it can hardly be called a “pulled punch.”
A person close to the Senate told a Watch staffer recently that the Senate would likely “scale back a bit” the appropriations it is being sent by the House.
But what has been the Senate’s historical pattern with higher ed appropriations bills?
Let’s take a look.
Last year, (FY12), the House sent to the Senate a MSSU recommendation of $22,641,335 from the General Revenue Fund, Debt Offset Escrow Fund and the Lottery Proceeds Fund. The Senate Substitute called for an appropriation of $23,173,776.
In 2010, (FY11), the House sent to the Senate a MSSU recommendation of $24,339,876 from the General Revenue Fund, Debt Offset Escrow Fund and the Lottery Proceeds Fund AND the Federal Budget Stabilization Fund (stimulus). The Senate Substitute called for an appropriation of $24,264,876.
In 2009, (FY10), the House sent to the Senate a MSSU recommendation of $25,672,158 from the General Revenue Fund, Debt Offset Escrow Fund and the Lottery Proceeds Fund AND the Federal Budget Stabilization Fund (stimulus). The Senate Substitute called for an appropriation of $27,560,926.
It is important to note that in both FY10 and FY11, stimulus funds resulted in lower general revenue appropriations. Also, in the Senate version in FY10 is an additional $1.8 plus million for one-time capital improvements as part of the total. So the “actual” Senate version appropriation for FY10 is the House recommendation of $25,672,158.
In 2008, (FY09), the House sent to the Senate a MSSU recommendation of $25,074,613 from the General Revenue Fund, Debt Offset Escrow Fund and the Lottery Proceeds Fund. The Senate Substitute called for an appropriation of the same amount.
So what does this mean?
The Senate and House have not historically been too far apart on appropriations. The wild card this year is the $28 million program for the blind. Democrats will leverage that against Republicans and Republicans will claim they tried to save higher education funding but the governor stopped them.
That isn’t leadership from either side. Watch this one closely.
Maybe the Globe might try to talk to Ron Richard. One would only hope.