Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

February 2, 2007

Senate Education Committee holds hearing on omnibus higher education bill

 

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), held a hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 31, on SB389, which modifies several aspects of the state’s higher education system. The bill, sponsored by Nodler, includes sections related to the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, financial aid, governance and tuition stabilization. University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd was among those who testified in support of the bill, describing the legislation as a “pivotal point in the future of higher education in our state.”

Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative

The bill authorizes the sale of assets by the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) for the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative to fund capital projects at the state’s public higher education institutions. It also follows the Missouri Development Finance Board’s restriction that prohibits projects built with MOHELA money to be used for stem cell research. Last week the University of Missouri Board of Curators unanimously approved a resolution “that for any application to the Missouri Development Finance Board to utilize funds under the Lewis & Clark Initiative, the University of Missouri will comply with the requirements of the Missouri Development Finance Board for those funds.”

Financial aid

The bill also creates the streamlined Missouri Financial Assistance Program, which combines the Gallagher and Missouri College Guarantee need-based programs. “We are very supportive of this new financial aid plan and believe it will have a significant impact on access and the affordability of higher education for Missouri students,” Floyd said. In his State of the State address, Gov. Matt Blunt also proposed adding $45 million to need-based financial aid programs.

Governance

In terms of governance, the legislation calls for enhancing the authority of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. It also proposes that institutions establish performance and accountability measures; improve transfer agreements with community colleges; and post the instructor’s name and credentials for each class, including the portion of the class, if any, taught by a graduate assistant.

Tuition stabilization

The tuition stabilization section of the bill allows the Commissioner of Higher Education to impose a 5 percent fine, and then requires institutions to seek a waiver from the commissioner, should tuition be increased above inflation.

Nodler has agreed to make a number of changes in the bill as it moves forward, including the section on tuition stabilization. The committee took no action on the bill. There will be a second hearing Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 2:00 p.m. [Read President Floyd’s testimony to the committee… link to remarks]

Back to index