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Budget prospects improve

It’s a balancing act. And if one succeeds, so may the other.

Mizzou’s ability to balance its budget for fiscal 2013 is affected by the state’s balancing its own budget. If the state’s agenda improves, so does the university’s.

During the last six months, Mizzou’s and the state’s budget prospects have improved. A balanced budget is likely due to the campus tightening its fiscal belt, generating additional revenue and tapping some rainy day funds, Budget Director Tim Rooney says.

Things looked bleak in January 2012 when Gov. Jay Nixon, BA’78, JD ’81, unveiled his $23 billion state budget that included a 12.5 percent cut to higher education. That would translate to a $21 million decline to Mizzou in state appropriation when compared to the previous year, when MU received $166 million.

In March, Nixon amended his agenda due to a $40 million settlement involving the nation’s five largest mortgage banks. The windfall enabled Nixon to lower state cuts to public colleges and universities to 7.8 percent for fiscal 2013. That would lower Mizzou’s deficit to $13 million.

Also in March, key Missouri lawmakers pushed to further reduce the higher education cuts.

Mizzou, meanwhile, searched for ways to generate revenue to offset state cuts. In February, the Board of Curators voted to increase tuition by 3 percent for in-state students and 7.5 percent for nonresident students.

MU’s online distance learning programs are also a growing revenue source and will now contribute $2 million to the bottom line. “In the past, we treated [distance learning] as one-time funds,” Rooney said at the spring general faculty meeting April 18. “We weren’t sure how to budget it or how regular that flow of revenue would be.”

Mizzou cuts are also helping balance the numbers. Reductions have been made to subsidies for debt accrued from football stadium improvements, the Chancellor’s Academic Fund and Mizzou Advantage. One of Mizzou Advantage’s initiatives, Managing Innovation, was consolidated into its four other initiatives.

About 40 positions at Mizzou may be eliminated, Chancellor Brady J. Deaton said recently, but most will be through not filling open positions.

Additional revenue from the predicted growth in enrollment and dipping into funds saved from previous years’ enrollment growth have helped create a balanced budget for fiscal 2013, Rooney said in late May.

The curators will vote on the final Mizzou budget in June, soon after the state budget is finalized.