College Loans: It Seems We ALL Have Them Now
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is asking some state universities for a loan. To be more specific, Gov. Nixon is asking the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of Central Missouri, Truman State University, Missouri State University, and Southeast Missouri State for a total of $107 million to help fund the Missouri Department of Higher Education (DHE) due to the state’s expected budget shortfall next year. The exact size of the budget gap is not yet known. There are differing reports on its size, with some articles stating it will fall between $400 million-$600 million while the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the shortfall is $750 million. Regardless, the amount is not insubstantial.
However, the plan for obtaining a $107 million loan from state universities to help fund a department that gives a lot of money to . . . well, state universities, seems odd. If the state is facing a shortfall, it needs to make the tough decisions to balance the budget (i.e., cut spending and NOT raise taxes). What happens if the state faces a similar situation in fiscal year 2014? Will Nixon ask for ANOTHER loan?
There are other places in the budget that can be cut (granted, these cuts alone will not make up the amount of money needed, but they are a start) before even thinking about cutting money from the DHE, never mind resorting to this loan plan. However, that is not to say that cuts cannot be made in DHE. The DHE budget is not sacrosanct.
For example, in fiscal year 2012, the DHE gave more than $400 million ($366,765,401 from general revenue) to the University of Missouri system. If Gov. Nixon wants a $63 million loan from the University of Missouri-Columbia, why doesn’t he ask the legislature to cut $63 million from the University of Missouri system. Lawmakers can always appropriate more money in future fiscal years (not that they necessarily SHOULD). Why ask for a loan?
Prudence is a virtue for a reason. Before engaging in plans meant to avoid the task at hand, wouldn’t it be better if the state actually finds out what it is paying for and truly decide what it NEEDS to pay for, and what people can do without?