Elected officials attend spelling bee hosted by UMKC

Rep. Shalonn “KiKi” Curls with fourth-grade students at the spelling bee hosted by UMKC.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City played host to the second annual Kansas City, Mo., Public School District Fourth Grade Spelling Bee on Friday, Feb. 16, in celebration of African-American History Month. Students from J.S. Chick and Sandford B. Ladd elementary schools faced off in the UMKC Law School’s E.E. Tom Thompson Courtroom before a crowd of more than 100 educators, government leaders, parents, fellow classmates and spelling bee fans. Rep. Craig Bland (D-Kansas City) and Rep. Shalonn “KiKi” Curls (D-Kansas City) attended the spelling bee, along with Kansas City Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks and Darwin Curls, who was present on behalf of U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver. Prior to the event, several community leaders recognized the event by providing proclamations from the City of Kansas City, Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri State Senate. All participants in the spelling bee received a certificate from the UMKC School of Law good for $1,000 toward admission if they choose to attend UMKC law school upon graduation from high school. The bee is coordinated by both the Law School and the School of Education.

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President Floyd testifies before Senate Appropriations Committee

University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd testified Wednesday, Feb. 21, before the Senate Appropriations Committee chaired by Sen. Chuck Gross (R-St. Charles). The higher education appropriations bill includes a 4.2 percent increase in operating funds for the University of Missouri, an increase of $17.4 million over FY2007 funding levels. President Floyd expressed gratitude for this year’s recommended appropriations increase to higher education and thanked the committee for its work during his tenure at the University. Lawmakers questioned Floyd and other higher education leaders about their views on tuition restraint language in the omnibus higher education bill and about funding allocations. The president also was asked about the allocation of funds within the University of Missouri, with a particular focus on whether the St. Louis campus would receive additional equity adjustments. Robert Stein, commissioner of higher education, also testified before the committee regarding aspects of the higher education budget. House appropriations will continue hearings on the spending bills next week.

Join alumni and supporters for the 33rd annual Legislative Day

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, March 14, for the 33rd annual University of Missouri Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension Legislative Day at the State Capitol. Events include a University rally, legislator visits, and a display showcase featuring each campus and Extension. The annual awards dinner will be held the evening before, Tuesday, March 13. Honorees for outstanding alumni service include Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, University of Missouri; Rep. Jeff Harris, MU; Angela Bennett, UMKC; Larry Hendren, UMR; Rep. Clint Zweifel, UMSL; and Jo Turner, Extension. [Find out more and register for Legislative Day…]

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Betty Thompson scholarship legislation moves out of committee

The Betty L. Thompson scholarship program legislation was passed out of the House Rules Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 20, with a vote of 5-2. HB808, which also was assigned a three-hour time limit for discussion once it hits the floor, would establish a scholarship authorizing a tax credit beginning with the 2007 tax year for taxpayers who donate to an educational assistance organization. The credit would be for 65 percent of the amount of the contribution and would target students with a grade point average of 2.5 or less in the Kansas City or St. Louis school districts. Eligible students must have a family income no more than 35 percent above the qualifying amount for the reduced lunch program and have attended a public school for the semester before a scholarship is granted or starting school in state for the first time. The legislation, which is sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, was introduced on Feb. 2 and voted out of the Special Committee on Urban Education Reform on Feb. 14.

Medicaid reform bill introduced in Senate

On Thursday, Feb. 22, Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) introduced SB577, which transforms Missouri’s Medicaid program into the new Mo HealthNet program. The bill, called the Missouri Health Improvement Act of 2007, replaces the current Division of Medical Services with a new Mo HealthNet division within the Department of Social Services to manage the new program. Notably, the current June 30, 2008, expiration date for the Medicaid program is repealed in order to allow for different implementation dates for certain portions of the program. The bill requires that by July 1, 2013, all participants in the Mo HealthNet program will have a choice of three health improvement plans, including: 1) a risk-bearing care coordination program; 2) an administrative services organizations program; and 3) a state care management point of service program. If the bill is quickly referred to committee, the Senate could potentially hold a hearing on it next week. 

House Budget Committee passes HB16 to fund health care programs

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the House Budget Committee passed HB16, a supplemental bill that appropriates funding for certain initiatives during the current fiscal year. Included in the proposed committee substitute is funding for health care programs which either directly or indirectly involve the University of Missouri and work to improve health care access in underserved areas of the state. Also included is $3.4 million to fund the Primary Care Resource Initiative Program (PRIMO) and Area Health Education Centers (AHEC). The PRIMO loan program helps certain health professional students pay their debt by forgiving school loans in exchange for an agreement that the student will serve in a defined area of need in the state for a specific period of time. The mission of the AHEC program is to improve the supply and distribution of health care professionals, with an emphasis on primary care and community/academic partnerships in order to ensure better access throughout the state of Missouri. University of Missouri students participate in the PRIMO program, and the MU-AHEC program works to expose students to rural medicine with the goal of improving access to health care in Missouri’s rural areas. HB16 also includes $60 million in capital improvement and planning money for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC). Many University of Missouri health professional students rotate through FQHCs during their training. For example, as part of their clinical training, the UMKC School of Dentistry requires students to spend a specified period of time working at an FQHC before graduating.

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icon question markLegislator profile

Rep. Fred Kratky
Rep. Fred Kratky

Rep. Fred Kratky (D-St. Louis) was first elected in 2002 to represent District 65 in the Missouri House of Representatives. “Higher education is the key to an educated workforce. In St. Louis we are fortunate to have a community college system, private higher education institutions, a specialized regional university in Harris-Stowe, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus.” In Kratky’s district, part of St. Louis City, UMSL prepares graduates for the knowledge-based economy. “UMSL is training a large percentage of the management workforce in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In that and many other fields they are helping to provide a trained workforce,” Kratky said. [Read more…]

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