- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A House panel that proposed cutting money for the University of Missouri to show disapproval of the school’s reaction to protests on campus last fall largely stuck by those cuts on Tuesday.

The House Budget Committee maintained a proposed $7.6 million decrease for administrators across the four-campus system, but restored roughly $400,000 in cuts to the Columbia campus that were recommended by the chairman. Those cuts in part were aimed at axing money for former assistant communications professor Melissa Click in light of the viral video showing her confrontation with a student videographer during November student protests. Curators fired Click last week.

The panel also voted against about $3.8 million in funding for system administration, which would have lessened the more than $7.6 million funding hit the University of Missouri now faces.

The action follows lawmakers’ criticism that school leaders did a poor job handling campus turmoil following student protests over what some saw as administrators’ indifference to racial issues. The protests gained national attention and culminated in the resignations of the system president and Columbia chancellor.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Flanigan, a Carthage Republican, last week proposed cutting more than $8 million in spending for the system in the fiscal year starting July 1.

The system this fiscal year received about $433 million from the state for general operations. State funding represents about 15 percent of the system’s budget.

The move also comes just hours after Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican running for attorney general, proposed a measure that would create a commission to review practices at the University of Missouri and recommend changes. When lawmakers consider how much money to give the university next year, Schaefer, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said they’ll consider whether the school ignores suggestions from the panel.

Republican Rep. Caleb Rowden, also of Columbia, has pushed for Flanigan to put funding for the University of Missouri back in the budget.

“Any cut that we make, while we may design that cut not to hit students and not to hit low-level staff, the reality is a cut aimed anywhere is going to hit those people first,” Rowden said as he pitched restoring about $3.8 million in funding for administrators from a surplus fund in the budget. That was voted down 15-11.

The budget proposals still need a vote of approval from the House committee before they can move to the full House for debate.

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