New project list for MOHELA proceeds released as part of supplemental appropriation

Greg Steinhoff, Sen. Gary Nodler and Rep. Gayle Kingery at a press conference to discuss the new capital projects list as part of the Lewis & Clark Discovery Initiative.

Legislative leaders released a revised list of higher education capital projects to be funded by the MOHELA revenues during a press conference Thursday, March 8. The new list removes those facilities that could have been used for stem cell research and redistributes the funds to a number of new projects. Although the projects had been incorporated in the omnibus higher education bill (SB389) in earlier versions, the new list will be included in the supplemental appropriations bill (HB16) that will be taken up by the Senate next week.

“The new set of projects fully funds important building and renovation projects on our campuses at St. Louis, Rolla and Kansas City and provides significant funding to improve facilities for Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia,” said University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd. “It also provides additional funding to strengthen MU’s vital agricultural research mission across Missouri.” [Read more…]

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Senate prepares for floor debate on omnibus higher education legislation

Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) has released the latest substitute version of SB389, the omnibus higher education bill, and announced that the Senate will begin debate on the legislation next week. [Read more on the provisions of SB389…]

Senate Education Committee hears bill to create incentives for teachers in unaccredited school districts

Sen. Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis) has introduced SB443, which establishes the “Teach for Missouri Act.” The program provides loan forgiveness for education majors who graduate from a Missouri institution and go on to teach full-time in unaccredited or provisionally accredited school districts in the state. The proposal, modeled after the federal Teach for America program, was presented before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, March 6. Under the program, graduates would receive forgiveness of 25 percent of their overall loan debt for each year they spend teaching full-time in one of the approved districts. High-ability students for the program would be selected in the senior year of high school, and initial funding in the proposal would provide dollars for up to 200 teachers to participate. [Read more…]

Senators debate new Smart Start scholarship proposal funded out of gaming proceeds

Senators ended the legislative week debating a proposal by Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) that would use proceeds from removing the loss limits on gaming boats and other fees to support a freshman-only scholarship program. SB430 would provide scholarships for any Missouri student who graduates from high school after attending a Missouri high school for three consecutive years, applies for a grant, and goes on to post-secondary education. Students who attend public or private institutions would be eligible for the scholarship. Senators debated several amendments to the bill on the floor but did not conclude work on the measure. It is expected to be taken up again in the coming days.

House passes supplemental bill to increase scholarship funding

HB16, which provides funds for supplemental purposes in the budget and increases funding for need-based aid, was passed by the House this week and is now ready for consideration in the Senate, where it will also become the vehicle for projects funded by the MOHELA asset sale. The bill includes a significant increase in need-based aid for the state as part of an effort to move funding from the current level of $27 million to a new level of $72 million. The increase is part of a larger effort to simplify and streamline current need-based aid programs and better balance the distribution of funds between public and private institutions through the “Access Missouri” need-based financial aid program.

House appropriations makes recommendations to Budget Committee

House Education-Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Kathlyn Fares (R-Webster Groves) presented her committee’s recommendations to the House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), this week. The committee report supported several items not recommended in the governor’s budget that pertain to higher education, including a recommendation for a $157,806 increase to the Department of Higher Education to help absorb new responsibilities proposed this year. The committee also recommended that MOREnet receive a $1.3 million increase in funding for infrastructure improvements, as the governor’s budget adds more demands on MOREnet for virtual schools. If more money is found in the budget, the committee recommended equitable funding for community colleges and four-year institutions. 

In other budget news, funding for a cooperative engineering program between the University of Missouri-Rolla and Missouri State University was not included in the final HB14 supplemental bill. The committee will defer beginning the program and consider including the funding as part of the FY2008 budget.

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icon question markCampus highlights

MU dean testifies on health profession shortages

Rich Oliver, dean of the MU School of Health Professions, testified in support of HB450 on Wednesday, March 7.  The bill, sponsored by Rep. Judy Baker (D-Columbia), would create a commission to study health professional shortages in Missouri and explore solutions to the current crisis.  At least 94 of Missouri’s 114 counties are designated as health professional shortage areas and, with an aging population and longer life spans, the shortages are expected to continue. Oliver testified to the fact that SHP graduates have multiple job offers upon graduation, with an average starting salary of approximately $45,000 -- as a direct result of not enough health professionals to address Missouri’s need. If passed, the commission created by HB450 could help encourage the General Assembly to support the University of Missouri’s request for $20 million in funding to recruit, educate and retain more health care professionals in the state. The University currently trains the bulk of physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, pharmacists, dentists and optometrists in the state

Sen. Yvonne Wilson listens to Mayor Kay Barnes at the “Statehouse Sisters” luncheon at UMKC.
Sen. Yvonne Wilson listens to Mayor Kay Barnes at the "Statehouse Sisters" luncheon at UMKC.
Sue Shear Institute hosts event at UMKC

The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life hosted its annual “Statehouse Sisters” luncheon on Friday, March 2, at UMKC’s Administrative Center. The event featured guest panelists from the state, city and county government, including Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, Sen. Yvonne Wilson (D-Kansas City) and Theresa Garza, of the Jackson County Legislature, who are all UMKC alumni. This year’s theme, “The Role of Political Parties in Running, Serving and Winning,” focused on political parties and the need for women to be more involved in the political process. The luncheon was sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, the Center for the City, UMKC Office of the Chancellor, the Cookingham Institute for Urban Affairs, the Midwest Center for Non-profit Leadership, Multicultural Student Affairs, the Student Life Office, the Women’s Center and Park University’s International Center for Public Engagement.

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icon question markLegislator profile

Bob May
Rep. Bob May (R-Rolla)

Rep. Bob May (R-Rolla) was first elected in 2000 to represent District 149, part of Phelps County, in the Missouri House of Representatives. May’s district is home to the University of Missouri-Rolla, which impacts the quality of life in the area. “I could show you UMR research programs that will make Missouri a better place to live and provide industry with the new techniques and manufacturing tools of the future. The research at UMR and the growth of Missouri companies like Boeing are linked,” May said. [Read more…]

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Federal update

U.S. Senate introduces “America COMPETES Act”

This week the United States Senate introduced S. 761, America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science, known as the “America COMPETES Act.” The bipartisan legislation is intended to make math and science education a top priority while keeping the U.S. competitive. The act would increase the federal investment in research by doubling the National Science Foundation budget to $11.2 billion by FY2011 and increasing the Department of Energy’s Office of Science budget to $5.2 billion in FY2011. It also would increase authorizations at NASA and other agencies. In addition, the act would focus on several elementary and secondary education programs and on developing an innovation infrastructure. Instead of being referred to committees, the bill has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. More information can be found by visiting the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

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