JEFFERSON CITY - The performance of Missouri's higher education institutions could be the future determining factor in how much money they receive from the state.
The heads of several higher education institutions told lawmakers Tuesday they were in favor of performance based higher education funding as was proposed the day before by Gov. Jay Nixon during his State of the State Address.
Nixon proposed a $150 million budget increase for education with $34 million going toward higher education that would be performance-based instead of based on past funding.
Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe, warned all institutions that money talked about in the Nixon's speech yesterday wasn't available yet.
"It's all pending on legislation," Lair said. "The money's not there."
Lair said that Nixon's speech was "smoke and mirrors" because although the money isn't there, education institutions may now believe they are guaranteed the funding that was proposed by the governor.
Lair said the Missouri Constitution state 25 percent of the budget must be spent on elementary and secondary education so any amount of money given to higher education institutions is "above and beyond the constitutional mandates" and wondered where would the extra money for higher education come from.
Missouri Southern State University's enrollment decreased in the last two years because of the 2011 Joplin tornado's impact on the region. MSSU President Bruce Speck said performance-based funding would have a positive impact on institutions.
"Performance-based funding will provide a clear picture of how successfully we have used state appropriations to support students throughout their college careers, " Speck said.
Missouri State University President Cliff Smart said he also agrees with a performance-based funding model that was developed with input from the state's public colleges and universities.
"We know it's the right thing to do and we would fare well under a performance funding system," Smart said.
Lair said a performance-based funding formula is being worked on but hasn't been released. Lawmakers have developed a model that differs from the one the Missouri Department of Higher Education developed with university input.
He said he agrees with performance-based funding but not completely with the one proposed by Nixon and said that he would like to see more than just the new additional funding be used in this new model.
Lair said lawmakers have tried to be fair but universities differ in the skills they provide students which makes it harder to create a formula that will distribute money to all types of universities. He said a performance-based funding system would give higher education institutions a focus and schools with lower performance scores would know what to work on in the future.
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