JEFFERSON CITY - If one state legislator had his way, the University of Missouri system would have been eliminated from receiving any building improvement funds from the state for the upcoming fiscal year.
By a vote of 54-85, the House defeated an amendment that would have stripped the UM system of funds to plan, design, renovate or construct buildings.
The amendment sponsor, Rep. Tim Green, D-St. Louis County, said he wanted the money that would be eliminated from the system to be used to defer rising tuition costs for students. He said the General Assembly writes large checks to universities every year, but the schools do not deal with the increasing tuition prices.
"I was trying to make a statement that they had better start worrying about the cost to students, not building Taj Mahals," Green said.
One of the reasons he said he sponsored the amendment was because of the retirement packages that have been offered to university employees. State Auditor Claire McCaskill released an audit last week that found large amounts of money awarded to retiring faculty. Green said this would have sent a message to schools not to misuse general revenue funds.
"My amendment needs to make a statement to people in higher education that there is a General Assembly in Jefferson City and they need to be accountable," he said.
But the majority of the House disagreed with his reasoning.
"To remove money on the spur of the moment simply to teach a lesson is not a good way to handle legislation," said Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia.
All three Columbia representatives voted against the proposal.
If the amendment would have passed, MU would have lost $29,947,000 for its Life Sciences building. The renovation of McKee Gymnasium would have suffered a $1,000,000 loss, and an agriculture research farm would have had $100,000 eliminated.
Green's answer to the lack of money the system would suffer was to renovate the buildings the universities already have.
"They need to renovate instead of building, building, building," he said.