Jan. 30, 2009

A publication of the University of Missouri Office of Government Relations

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Governor presents recommendations for FY10 budget

Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his first State of the State and budget address Jan. 27. Here are several links to provide university supporters with more information.

Governor includes financial aid enhancements in budget recommendations

Two state financial aid programs would see changes and enhancements in Gov. Jay Nixon's Fiscal Year 2010 budget. The Access Missouri need-based scholarship program would receive an inflationary increase and a balance in award levels for students attending public and private four-year institutions. The governor also proposed transferring the A+ Scholarship program from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to the Department of Higher Education and expanding its funding to provide free tuition for students who graduate from a two-year institution and transfer to a public four-year institution.

Access Missouri, which was formed two years ago by combining two former need-based programs that serve both public and private school students, has seen significant funding increases over the past two years from about $25 million to $95 million. While the additional funds resulted in more dollars flowing to students attending all institutions, students who choose to attend private institutions currently receive $4,600 - or more than twice as much funding - than those who choose the University of Missouri or other public institutions and receive a maximum award of $2,150. Nixon proposes equalizing the award for all four-year students at $2,850.

The governor's recommendation for the first phase of the Missouri Promise program is to provide a path for a tuition-free four-year degree at public institutions. The A+ Scholarship program already provides free tuition at a public community college for those students who meet the requirements for A+ status, including completing community service projects and meeting other grade and participation requirements. Missouri Promise would then provide free tuition as the student graduates with an associate degree and then transfers to a public four-year institution such as the University of Missouri to pursue a bachelor's degree. The governor is requesting about $25 million in additional state funding to the current A+ program to begin that transition.

State suspends progress on several Lewis and Clark Discovery projects

The University of Missouri was notified by the Office of Administration Wednesday that there is not sufficient funding through the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) to justify continuing several higher education construction projects that were part of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. Projects suspended included a new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia for $31 million, a plant sciences research facility in Mexico for $5 million and a swine research facility in Callaway County for $600,000. The letter also indicated that several other university projects funded in the initiative would be under review and subject to possible suspension, including Benton-Stadler building renovations at UMSL for $28.5 million and several smaller projects at university agriculture research centers and farms across the state. The letter said no expenditures should be made until further notice.

The university is committed to these projects and will work with the governor and state legislators to determine other possible funding sources to help the state fulfill its obligation to the university to provide funding for these projects.

Federal stimulus package makes headway in U.S. Senate, House

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009, the Senate Appropriations committee passed the Senate version of the stimulus package by a vote of 21-9. Four Republicans, including Kit Bond of Missouri, joined all 17 committee Democrats to send the bill to the Senate floor. The House passed its version of the stimulus package on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009. The measure passed 244-188, largely by party lines, with all Republicans and 11 Democrats voting against the bill.

The Senate version will be approximately $900 billion, while the House version was $825 billion. Part of the difference is attributable to a $5.5 billion surface transportation grant program included in the Senate package, but not the House version. The House version includes $79 billion in block grants to states for education so that states can maintain education funding and $6 billion in block grants to states for higher education construction.

Nixon visits MU, UMKC Schools of Nursing

Gov. Jay Nixon visited the Schools of Nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia and University of Missouri-Kansas City this week to announce his support for Caring for Missourians, a program that would provide more quality health care workers for the state.

The governor's proposal for Caring for Missourians, which includes all public two- and four-year higher education institutions in the state, would provide $39 million in recurring funds to produce more than 900 health care professionals per year. Of this amount, the University of Missouri System would receive more than $24 million to produce more nurses, physicians, allied health professionals, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists.

Click here for additional photos.

Education committees organize and begin work on policy issues

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) met for the first time Wednesday to consider several bills, including SB182 sponsored by Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Lee's Summit) that would punish a person using false or misleading diplomas in connection with admission to a higher education institution or in seeking employment. The committee took no action on the bill. Education committee members include Sens. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Norma Champion (R-Springfield), Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring), Rita Heard Days (D-St. Louis), and Yvonne Wilson (D-Kansas City).

The House Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), held an organizational session Tuesday to introduce new members. No legislation was heard. Committee members include Reps. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), Walt Bivins (R-St. Louis), Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), Chuck Gatschenberger (R-Lake St. Louis), Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg), Rebecca McClanahan (D-Kirksville), Margo McNeil (D-Florissant), Chris Molendorp (R-Belton), Sue Schoemehl (D-St. Louis), Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) and Mary Still (D-Columbia).

Poplar Bluff Ag Expo opens

Four Missouri legislators attended Friday's opening ceremony of the 23rd annual Ag Expo in Poplar Bluff, the largest public event conducted by University of Missouri Extension across the state. Michael Ouart, vice provost for MU Extension, welcomed attendees and cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the two-day event, which attracted more than 10,000 people from Southeast Missouri and Northeast Arkansas. The expo, co-sponsored by the Three Rivers Community College Ag Club, featured nutrition classes and other educational programs and a wide variety of activities.

Legislators tour Missouri S&T campus

A group of Missouri senators and representatives visited Missouri University of Science and Technology Jan. 28 to tour the campus and research facilities. Chancellor John F. Carney III briefed the group on the campus's progress in research, enrollment, private fundraising and other areas and pointed out that S&T's student enrollment has grown to 6,371 over the past eight years from a total enrollment of 4,626 in 2000.

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