Greitens' back-to-back budget reductions set cutbacks in motion

Written by Jacque Flanagan

Although the General Assembly must approve the governor’s proposed budget and its $68.2 million hit to higher education, UCM President Chuck Ambrose said the administration is starting to think of ways to trim down.
Gov. Eric Greitens announced his budget recommendations Monday, and UCM anticipates seeing a 7.73 percent decrease in state funding – equal to allocations last received in 2004.
“This budget proposal is really just a starting point, we have a lot of discussions in the Legislature that help certain decision-makers know that these cuts have lasting and permanent effects on our institutions, including us,” Ambrose said in a telephone interview. “This is just the starting process where hopefully we don’t lose quite as much as they’re recommending, but you can’t count that until May.”
The planned cut reduces UCM appropriations by approximately $5.6 million, according to a UCM press release.
Ambrose said the administration will be as transparent as possible when making and approving cuts. He said this will start with a campuswide series of discussions, starting within academic departments.
Ambrose said these decisions will then channel up through college deans to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Roger Best; Interim Provost-Chief Learning Officer Mike Godard; and then the Strategic Leadership team, an executive council to the president. The UCM board of governors would tentatively approve the university’s budget in April.
Greitens’ proposal reduces higher education’s state funding by some $68.1 million, according to the governor’s fiscal year 2019 budget summary.
Ambrose said the decision process is an ongoing effort that involves 70 percent of the institution when including academic departments, athletics, and the Missouri Innovative Campus in Lee’s Summit.
Greitens’ proposal also sets aside 10 percent of the appropriations until certain performance goals are met.
The state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education developed the performance goals in December 2017, outlining 11 sets of criteria that focus on excellence, efficiency, affordability, accountability and accuracy.
The governor’s proposed budget would mean back-to-back cuts for higher education. The university’s anticipated revenue in fiscal year 2018 – tuition and state appropriation – was $152.3 million before cuts announced last year. After the cuts, the total was estimated at $138 million.
State appropriation cutbacks in 2017, coupled with a tuition drop from losing overseas graduate students who were concerned with U.S. policies, contributed to the school’s funding gap, according to a UCM tuition finance summary.
Ambrose said there’s a breaking point when cuts affect performance.
“We’ll get there. We’re better positioned to grow and be efficient … it’s just getting harder and harder, that’s all,” he said.