JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mel Carnahan's proposal for one of the University of Missouri's largest budget increases in recent years comes up for a vote in the House Education Appropriations Committee Wednesday.
Half the proposed $30 million increase for the four-campus system's operating budget would go to make sure core budget expenses keep pace with inflation, under the governor's plan.
One such item is faculty salaries, which the university wants to make sure keep up with those at similar schools, said U.M. lobbyist Jim Snider.
"Candidly, the increase means we think we can recruit effectively to the four campuses," Snider said.
He said U.M. salaries fall around the median for schools in the American Association of Universities, a consortium of 38 public universities that includes, among others, some Big 12 and most Big Ten schools.
But he said the goal is a moving target because of inflation.
"We have to maintain the same operating budget," he said. "If we don't get an increase for inflation, we have to cut costs somewhere."
Other core budget items include the "equipment and expense budget," which includes non-salary expenses such as library acquisitions and funds for faculty to travel to present papers, as well as other costs.
The governor's proposed budget asks the legislature to increase funding to U.M. by about $30 million- an 8.5 increase - for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Besides core budget item expenses, the governor proposed $15 million to fund the first year of the university's mission enhancement program.
Snider said the program has three main goals. The first is emphasizing teaching. Part of this component calls for adding 28 new junior faculty members at the Columbia campus and increasing undergraduate graduation rates by 10 percent during the next four years. Snider said the program's two other main goals are strengthening research and increasing educational access.
Snider said the university asked for an annual $4 million appropriation to fund endowed chairs to match funds the university would raise from private sources.
The blueprint for the mission enhancement program was completed in 1997. Snider said the three themes for the program were proposed by the Board of Curators, approved by the Coordinating Board and endorsed by the governor.
Last year's appropriation for U.M.'s operating budget was $364 million.