Every day from now until the end of the year Missouri Business Alert will be looking back at the top five stories that shaped particular industries or regions in the state. Keep checking back to find out what 2012’s biggest news-making events were where you live and where you work.
Higher Education Faces Rounds of Budget Cuts
Missouri’s public colleges and universities took another budget hit in June from Gov. Jay Nixon, marking the third straight year that higher education institutions have seen their basic state aid reduced.
Nixon announced nearly $9 million in cuts for colleges and universities while signing Missouri’s $24 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The cut to higher education amounts to 1 percent less than the roughly $850 million colleges and universities expected under the budget. But when combined with previous cuts, institutions will get 12.4 percent less — or about $120 million — than in the 2009-2010 school year.
The UM System raised tuition rates in February by 3 percent for in-state students and by 6.8 percent for non-residents to counteract inflation and a loss of state funding.
Looking toward 2013, University of Missouri administrators are concerned about federal budget cuts, stemming from what might happen on the other side of the fiscal cliff. Unless Congress acts, sequestration will become effective Jan. 2, leading to across-the-board cuts to federal agencies. In addition, more statewide cuts are possible for the coming year as well.
MU prepares for possible federal cuts Columbia Tribune, December
Mo. governor makes more cuts to higher education, BusinessWeek, June
Univerity of Missouri System’s increase in-state tuition rises by about 3 percent, Kansas City Star, February
Columbia adds $40 million to proposed Missouri higher education budget, Kansas City Star, February
Tobacco tax would have generated funds for public schools, medical education
A proposition on the Nov. 6 ballot proposed to raise the state’s cigarette tax, which is currently the lowest in the nation, from $0.17 a pack to $0.90 a pack. Proposition B, which failed, would have generated an estimated $283-423 million annually, 80 percent of which would have been marked for public schools and higher education in the state.
Now programs that were planning on using that money are waiting until January to ask the legislature for increased funding. Such programs include the University of Missouri’s creation of a clinical campus program in Springfield and construction of a medical education building, allowing for an increase in enrollment.
The increase in enrollment would address the shortage of physicians in Missouri, according to an economic impact study prepared by Thomas Johnson. According to the study, the plan would add 300 physicians in Missouri, create 3,500 jobs and add more than $390 million to the state’s economy.
“The project has always been dependent on funding,” Weldon Webb, associate dean of the MU School of Medicine, said in September. “The main possibility at this moment is the tobacco tax funding, if it passes. If not, we will have to go back to legislative sessions in January and attempt to get funding there.”
This was the third time in the past 10 years Missouri voters have struck down a tobacco tax increase.
Expansion of MU medical program hinges on tobacco tax vote Columbia Missourian, September
Why a higher cigarette tax is very good for Missouri Kansas City Star, October
On Prop B: “Desperately” Needed Funds Would Impact “Bottom Dollar”, KSMU Ozark Public Radio, November
Business schools compete to have best facilities, innovative programs
Many universities are erecting big new buildings for their business schools, facilities filled with 21st-Century technology to support the latest teaching methods. The “arms race” to build bigger and better business schools inevitably attracts the brightest applicants and professors. Larger schools can also enroll more students, who shell out thousands of dollars per year in tuition, room and board, and other expenses.
When UMKC’s new 65,000-square-foot, four-story building opens in fall 2013, it will include a business startup brainstorming area and innovation lab. It’s being built with a $32 million gift the university received from Henry W. Bloch in 2011. Washington University in St. Louis began construction this year on a pair of new buildings in its Olin Business School that are set to open in late 2013.
A list compiled by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business shows that more than 100 business schools across the country have either completed a new building this year, renovated or expanded an old one, or are raising money for a new one. Among other regional entries: new buildings for Washington University in St. Louis, to open in 2013, Oklahoma State University (2015) and the University of Nebraska (2016).
Washington University and the University of Missouri ranked among top business school for 2012 by Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Washington University’s Olin School of Business was 31st and the University of Missouri Trulaske College of Business in Columbia was 56th among programs worldwide.
The Race for Bigger, Better Business Schools, US News and World Report
Colleges compete in business school ‘arms’ race Columbia Missourian (originally published in the Kansas City Star), October
Donors contribute $25 million to new WashU business buildings, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Wash U., Illinois, Mizzou business schools make Bloomberg list, St. Louis Business Journal, November
MU System Pledges to Improve Degree Completion
The four campuses in the University of Missouri System have joined a national effort to boost the number of college degrees by 60 percent by 2025.
Initiatives to increase the number of degrees include:
- Increasing enrollment on the four campuses in Columbia, Rolla, St. Louis and Kansas City.
- Increasing the number of graduates and six-year graduation rates.
- Preventing large increases in tuition.
- Increasing financial aid.
- Reducing administrative expenses.
- Increasing diversity.
Project Degree Completion also urges colleges to cut the time it takes students to earn degrees. Already, a night program on the University of Missouri campus has been scrapped, allowing evening courses to be integrated with day offerings, and online classes are becoming part of the traditional experience.
UM System commits to increase number of degrees, college completion Columbia Missourian, October
UM joins national Project Degree Completion Columbia Tribune, October
Missouri Teachers Granted Wider Collective Bargaining Rights
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled in November that not only must public bodies like school boards and cities collectively bargain with their employee unions, but that bargaining must be done in good faith. Two rulings were issued in conjunction with this announcement, one dealing with police officers in two districts who wanted to unionize and the other concerning unionized teachers at a St. Louis charter school.
“Essentially, [the rulings are] complete victories for the labor side,” said Bruce Feldacker, labor attorney and adjunct professor at Saint Louis University law school, said after the announcement. “There’s no question that governmental employers have a much clearer duty to bargain in good faith to teach and agreement now than was the status before these two rulings.”
Mo. Supreme Court Expands Public Sector Collective Bargaining, St. Louis Public Radio, November
School board approves bargaining policies Columbia Tribune, January