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MU leaders discuss budget constraints

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The MU Budget Office held an open meeting Tuesday to discuss the state of the university’s funds. Speaking to a roomful of university faculty and staff, Director of Budget Tim Rooney outlined what MU’s budget might look like in fiscal year 2013 if the governor’s proposed cuts to higher education come through.

Although the university’s total budget for this year is around $2 billion, it could be left with a $21 million deficit. Historically at MU, as state funding goes down, tuition has gone up and vice versa.

And while an increase in tuition is one way to balance the budget, it isn’t the only answer, says Rooney.

“What we’ve found in the last numbers of years is that by being transparent and letting everybody know the issues I think it’s helpful for everybody to understand that we’re working on everybody’s behalf that there aren’t any secrets," he said. "And we also learn from the audience a lot of things: some solutions, diff ways of presenting the information, diff ways to look at a solution and so forth so we take things back with us as well. “

MU Provost Brian Foster also points out that these discussions are still in the exploratory phase.

“I think the biggest takeaway  is that all of this is just…it’s a work in progress it’s just happening and it’s impossible to say where we think it’s going to go cause there’s a lot of discussion to happen yet so that makes it even more important that we’re having this kind of discussion today with faculty in staff.”

While the legislature hasn’t acted on the state budget yet, the curators will be meeting in Kansas City next week to discuss tuition.

Update: With the governor's proposed cuts, MU's total deficit would amount $21 million reducation, not $14 million as previously reported. The University of Missouri clarified it's numbers after its original presentation.

Scarlett Robertson joined KBIA as a producer in February 2011. She studied psychology at Lake Forest College and holds a masters degree in journalism from Syracuse University. Scarlett began her professional career in psychology, jumped to magazines and then came to her senses and shifted to public radio. She has contributed to NPR member stations WAER in Syracuse, KUT in Austin and Chicago’s WBEZ.