Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

February 10, 2006

House Republican leadership announces Access Missouri plan to provide scholarships and capital improvements for higher education

House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) and Speaker Pro-Tem Carl Bearden (R-St. Charles) headlined a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 9 that outlined their Access Missouri plan to use MOHELA proceeds to fund scholarships, pay down state debt and fund capital improvements for higher education. The proposal also includes maintenance and repair funds for community colleges. Although legislation has yet to be introduced, the leaders provided an overview of their plan, which differs from Gov. Matt Blunt’s Lewis and Clark Initiative.

The Access Missouri proposal includes $75 million to pay down the state’s debt, $18 million to community colleges for maintenance and repair, and $190 million for scholarships, compared to the governor’s plan for $100 million in scholarships. The proposal also reduces the amount of funding available for capital improvements at higher education institutions by $145 million and removes funding for life sciences incubators and endowed professorships. The specific projects to be funded in the House Republican proposal have not yet been announced.

Rep. Bearden also provided a glimpse of his updated legislation to change how higher education institutions are funded. Many components of the legislation are similar to HB742, which was debated last year. However, Bearden would start a new scholarship known as Access Missouri, which would provide up to $1,000 in scholarship support to students in the freshman year that they can take to any two- or four-year public or private institution. Those who receive the A+ scholarship would not be eligible to receive the award. The scholarship would be funded by the $180 million from MOHELA funds.

Bearden also would freeze higher education operating funds at the FY01 level and funnel all additional revenues into the four major scholarship plans: Bright Flight, Missouri College Guarantee, Gallagher and Access Missouri. Several of these programs are only partially funded currently, and Bearden’s proposal would lock operating funds for public institutions at FY01 levels until the scholarship plans are funded at 75 percent. After an adjustment in operating funds at that point, the operating fund levels would freeze again until the scholarships are funded at 100 percent. Any additional revenues would then flow back into operations of the institutions. 

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