East Central College’s Board of Trustees discussed and debated the college’s budget situation at it’s meeting Monday night.
ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer gave the board an update on the budget situation. He said, at the moment, ECC’s budget situation is up to Gov. Eric Greitens.
The original budget put forward by Greitens proposed large cuts to Missouri Higher education institution’s state aid. For ECC, the cuts manifested itself as a 9 percent cut to the two-year college’s state aid, roughly $450,000.
The budget that currently is waiting to be signed by Greitens would only cut 6.5 percent of that budget, or approximately $300,000.
Trustee Don Kappelmann suggested lowering the tuition the across the board from the $5 per credit hour increase that was approved 5-1 in April. He said with a lower cut to state aid on Greitens’ desk, the university should roll back its tuition hike.
“Now that we’re closer to knowing the reality of next year, instead of the projected amount, maybe we can think about a reduction in tuition for the students,” Kappelmann said.
Bauer said while the proposed budget is an improvement, it does not change the college’s fiscal situation greatly. He added that the governor also could make changes to the budget before the bill passes or through mid year cuts.
“We don’t know for sure because the governor could still take action and withhold money, which has happened both at the beginning of the year and mid year in the past,” he said. “We know what the general assembly did and the House and Senate, but we don’t know what the governor will do.”
Bauer said enrollment is nearly the same as it was last year at this time, but added that there is still more than 100 days before the next academic year begins. He said a lot can change, enrollment wise, in that time.
“Our work on the budget is based on the tuition increase that was adopted last month,” he said. “One of the biggest pieces that won’t be finalized until the beginning of the fall semester is enrollment. We’re early in the process today, but we’re essentially even.”
Bauer said other factors may influence the budget situation, like the current collective bargaining negotiations with the college’s faculty National Education Association members.
The governor has 45 days to make a decision on the budget after the legislative session ends Friday, May 12.