University of Missouri Legislative Update University of Missouri

UM Legislative Update is published by Government Relations and University Relations to inform stakeholders of important government activities affecting the University of Missouri.

House version of higher education budget bill sent to Senate

On Thursday, April 14, the House perfected and then third read the higher education budget bill, HB 3.
There were no changes from the House Budget Committee substitute. Rep. Brad Lager (R-Maryville), chair of the House Budget Committee, praised all of the public higher education institutions for their cooperative efforts in addressing the fiscal situation in the state. The House bill was referred to the Senate and will be assigned to the Senate Committee, which should make its recommendation next week. The Senate has been holding hearings to review the various appropriations bills during the past week.

President Floyd testifies before State Government Review Commission

University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd testified Monday, April 11 before the State Government Review Commission recently appointed by Gov. Matt Blunt. Floyd appeared before the members of the group looking specifically at education and higher education and followed testimony presented by representatives of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education.

Floyd described the University of Missouri's governance and operations and explained the strengths of the various campuses. He also highlighted the challenges facing higher education in Missouri and ended with a number of governance and policy issues that need to be considered in the future. [Read President Floyd's testimony]

Medicaid reform legislation delivered to governor

After passage in both chambers and with little change from its original version, SB 539 was delivered to Gov. Matt Blunt on Tuesday, April 12. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield), makes the statutory changes that are necessary to implement some of the governor's proposed Medicaid budget cuts. It also creates a Medicaid Reform Commission to study the program and sunsets the current Medicaid program as of June 30, 2008.

The corresponding budget bills also were approved by the House of Representatives this week and were sent to the Senate. HB 10 represents the proposed Department of Mental Health and Health and Senior Services budget and HB 11 represents the Department of Social Services budget. In those bills, the House Budget Committee was able to restore some of the cuts in the governor's proposed budget through cost-saving measures and plans for obtaining additional revenue. Should the cuts be approved, University of Missouri Health Care estimates an impact of between $4.5 and $9 million. The House added $6 million to the Social Services budget to aid hospitals, such as University Hospitals and Clinics, which treat a disproportionate share of Medicaid patients.

House Higher Education Committee approves new higher education funding plan

The House Higher Education Committee has adopted a substitute version of HB 742, which would call for a change in financial aid and state appropriation formulas and other items related to higher education funding. The new version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Carl Bearden (R-St. Charles), makes minor changes in the original bill and was passed 6-2 on Tuesday, April 12.

Although the bill was approved, committee members indicated during the hearing that there were numerous concerns about the details of the bill. Many of these concerns echoed comments made last week during a hearing by University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd and other higher education leaders and related primarily to establishing a process that would allow more public financial aid dollars to flow to students who attend private schools, as well as the fairness of a funding formula based on student enrollment that did not factor in varying costs of different programs.

Committee Chair Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff) indicated that although the committee passed the bill it is not expected to be considered on the House floor at this late date. Bearden said he would like to form an interim committee to study the details of the bill and address concerns raised by the higher education community. That committee is expected to be formed this summer or fall.

MU researcher recognized as "Outstanding Missourian"

Dr. Wynn Volkert receives award
Dr. Wynn Volkert with Rep. Carl Bearden
and Rep. Judy Baker

Dr. Wynn Volkert, professor of radiology and director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute at UM-Columbia, was honored Tuesday, April 12 by the Missouri House of Representatives as an "Outstanding Missourian" for his research in developing cancer drugs and radiopharmaceuticals. Volkert, who also directs the Radiopharmaceutical Sciences Institute at MU's Research Reactor, has devoted his career to the research and development of drugs and treatments for those suffering from cancer. Among his most noteworthy achievements was the development of Ceretec, a drug widely used for blood imaging of the brain, and Quadramet, for treatment of pain associated with bone cancer. Volkert was honored by the House and presented with a proclamation introduced by Rep. Judy Baker (D-Columbia).

Senate approves new funding formula for elementary and secondary education

After several hours of debate, the Missouri Senate on Wednesday, April 13 adopted SB 287. The measure would require $650 million in additional funding and refocus the factors the state considers in dividing up state dollars for public schools and would be phased in over a five-year period. Rather than emphasizing assessed valuation based on the local tax rate, the new formula emphasizes the actual cost of educating the students in the district. The base level per student would be $6,117 in the new formula. The plan also provides a grant pool for districts with fewer than 300 students. No district would receive less funding than it currently receives in the rewritten formula. The measure does not take into consideration how to fund the new formula, and a plan to consider dollars is expected to be taken up before the end of the legislative session.

Meanwhile, the House has formed a committee to review its version of the foundation formula, and that body met this week in a work session to discuss various details. The House bill is HB 771, sponsored by Rep. Brian Baker (R-Belton). Lawmakers are hoping to complete work on a new formula before the end of session.

Profile: Rep. Gayle Kingery, Chairman, Higher Education Committee

Rep. Gayle Kingery

We plan to feature different members of the University of Missouri Caucus throughout the rest of the session. This week we focus on Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), who serves as chairman of the Higher Education Committee. Kingery attended graduate school at UM-Columbia and served as a graduate assistant for the MU football team. "Being in Columbia and working with the team was one of the best experiences of my life," he said. [Read more…]

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