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House Committee Wants Detailed University Budgets

Members of a Missouri House interim committee tasked with improving government efficiency complained Wednesday about not having access to the full budgets of any of the state's universities.

The committee was examining the Department of Higher Education. Republican committee member Kathie Conway of St. Charles says the department's annual budget requests to the Governor's office do not contain line-by-line expense requests she says the committee needs to do its job.

"It's very generalized," Conway said. "I've spent nearly five months trying to get line-by-line budgets for, particularly, the University of Missouri System, the four major universities."

Conway says at this point she'll have to travel to each university campus and meet with their financial officers to get detailed budget figures.

"Our fiduciary responsibility is to taxpayers," Conway said  "I'm not saying anybody's misappropriating or not using funds wisely, but it's awfully hard to assure taxpayers that you are (spending wisely) when we don't know."

Fellow committee member Tom Flanigan, a Republican from Carthage, told Higher Education Commissioner David Russell that he wants copies of the full budgets for every state university "this month," which ends next Monday.

"I'm looking for a very detailed document that delineates all the way down to the number of janitors at each institution," Flanigan said to Russell.  "That's what I'm looking for, and that's what I expect you to provide."

Russell told Flanigan that he would have to request that information from each individual university before giving it to the committee.   He also said that he would look into having it provided to the committee as soon as possible.

The House Interim Committee on Improving Government Responsiveness and Efficiency is chaired by Republican State Representative Sue Allen from Town and Country.

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