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Flanigan wants to slice $8 million from University of Missouri System

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

The top budget writer in the Missouri House is pledging to cut more than $8 million from the University of Missouri System next year.

In a statement released Tuesday, House Budget Committee chair Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, says the vast bulk of his proposed cuts, $7.6 million, will target the overall University of Missouri System.

"For several months legislators have had stories relayed to us from current and past students, staff and faculty of a vast bureaucracy that rivals the Pentagon in terms of red tape and delays," Flanigan said. "Additionally, appropriators are deeply concerned with the faculty waiver process, how conflicts of interest are addressed, and the inability to terminate employees who participate in conduct unbecoming the University of Missouri and our state."

Another cut of $402,059 would effectively zero out the salaries of three faculty members on the Mizzou campus, including that of assistant professor Melissa Click. She was criticized for her actions during student protests last fall over the campus' racial climate.

Republican lawmakers are unhappy about university administrators' response to the protests, as well as a perceived cozy relationship between the university-run hospital and Planned Parenthood.

Not long after Flanigan's announcement, interim university system president Michael Middleton sent a short letter to all university employees:

Dear Colleagues, I want to take this opportunity to once again share with you how much I appreciate your work each day as team members within the University of Missouri System. You positively affect many lives, and you are an important part of the noble work of this university. You may see media coverage about the state budget deliberations in Jefferson City. This budget process is a long one which includes discussion and debate. During this time, I pledge to you that I will do my best to continue delivering the message of the importance of the UM System in supporting the four campuses. I will continue to communicate that we will remain accountable, transparent and fiscally responsible in our work. If you would like to learn more about how our centralized structure creates efficiencies that keep the cost of education affordable and attainable at our four campuses, please visit my blog at https://www.umsystem.edu/president-blog/022316_blog Thank you for your continuing service and commitment to our university.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, also sounded off on the proposed cuts to higher education, along with the House's proposed budget for K-12 schools:

"After an initial review, it is clear that the budget introduced today in House would be devastating to public education – slashing $137 million in general revenue funding from K-12 classrooms, colleges and universities. Cutting funding for public schools and increasing college tuition will not move our state forward.  Over the coming days, we will continue to review the potential impacts of this proposal and work with members of the General Assembly to provide our schools and colleges with the resources they need to educate the workforce of the future."

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.