June 11, 2013
House Bill 253 would jeopardize Missouri families' access to affordable, quality post-secondary education, increase taxes on college text books, Gov. Nixon says
Gov. Nixon discusses impact of $800 million tax bill with higher education leaders
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - During a speech to college and university chancellors and presidents today, Gov. Jay Nixon said House Bill 253 would threaten college affordability by jeopardizing funding for higher education and by repealing the longstanding sales tax exemption on college text books. According to data compiled by the College Board, Missouri now leads the nation in holding down college costs.
"Over the past four years, through some very challenging economic times, we had to make the tough but necessary decisions to keep our budget in balance and continue moving Missouri forward," Gov. Nixon said. "We challenged our higher education institutions to do more with less, cut under-performing academic programs, increase accountability, and hold down tuition - and that is exactly what we did. Today, Missouri leads the nation in holding down college costs, more students are pursuing a post-secondary education than ever before, and this year we will implement a performance-based funding model that rewards schools based on results. At a time when a highly trained workforce is more essential than ever to competing and winning in the global economy, House Bill 253 would undermine our ability to provide the high quality, affordable higher education options Missouri students need and deserve."
House Bill 253 would cost the state more than $800 million when fully implemented, the equivalent of cutting all public support for higher education, closing all of Missouri's prisons, or eliminating the Department of Mental Health. Such a drastic reduction in state revenue would force deep cuts to vital public services, including funding for higher education and scholarships. The legislation also repeals Missouri's longstanding sales tax exemption on college text books.
"House Bill 253 poses a serious threat to college quality and affordability in the Show-Me State," said Dr. John Jasinski, the newly elected president of the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE) and president of Northwest Missouri State University. "Other states pursuing this type of unbalanced tax policy are experiencing program erosion and facing spikes in tuition. Our education system is a critical component to economic development and our Missouri students and families should not have to bear the costs of tax policies with unintended consequences. We look forward to working with our elected representatives and the Governor to continue moving higher education, and for that matter, early childhood, elementary and secondary and higher education, forward in Missouri."
"For the economic growth and general well-being of Missouri, it is important that we continue to make higher education affordable to all, not just the affluent,” said Clifton M. Smart III, President of Missouri State University, and Vice Chair of the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE). “I am concerned that House Bill 253 may adversely affect our ability to keep higher education affordable by reducing the amount of funding support the state is able to provide our public four-year universities. In other states where similar legislation has been passed, we know the results have been reduced support, leading to higher tuition for students and families. I sincerely hope we can avoid the same result in Missouri.”
According to an analysis by The College Board, since the 2007-2008 school year, tuition and fees at Missouri's public four-year colleges and universities have increased just 5 percent, the lowest of any other state in the nation.