Feb. 13, 2009

A publication of the University of Missouri Office of Government Relations

Legislative Update

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Federal stimulus package continues to move forward

On Wednesday and Thursday, the U.S. House and Senate convened a conference committee to compromise key details for H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which is designed to stimulate the economy. An agreement was reached late Thursday, and the House passed the measure by 246-183, with no Republican members voting for the proposal. The Senate will debate and vote on final passage of the conference committee measure late Friday.

The conference bill presents huge potential investments in education through direct funding to states and research funding. Included in the package is $53.6 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, through which $39.6 billion will go directly to states for general education accounts. Research funding is greatly increased, including $3 billion for the National Science Foundation; $10.4 billion for the National Institutes of Health; $2 billion for research at the Department of Energy, which includes $1.6 billion for science and $400 million for Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy (ARPA-E); and $580 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including $180 million for a competitive research facilities construction program.

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Nixon restores Extension funding

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Feb. 11 that he plans to restore $9.3 million to his recommendation to University of Missouri funding for FY10 after recently learning that some state cost savings had been identified. The governor's initial budget proposal contained a suggested $14.6 reduction in university Extension funding.

Nixon is now recommending a total of $470.5 million for the university in House Bill 3. An understanding of the state budget for next year continues to be somewhat murky as the General Assembly and the governor learn more about the Federal Stimulus Package just recently approved by Congress. Nixon's proposed budget contains some programmatic recommendations utilizing these funds, which will become more focused as details of the federal appropriation become clear.

House and Senate appropriation leaders are expected to initially draft a traditional budget using state general revenue and other normal funding sources and will consider appropriate uses for additional federal funds later in the session as more information becomes available. The state constitution requires the General Assembly complete a budget by May 7, 2009.

Higher education leaders meet to discuss need-based scholarship proposal

Presidents and chancellors of public and private higher education institutions in Missouri met with the Coordinating Board for Higher Education Feb. 12 in St. Louis to discuss the state's financial aid programs.

Gov. Jay Nixon proposed in his budget that award levels for Access Missouri, the financial aid program established two years ago by the General Assembly to simplify need-based aid for Missouri students at public and private institutions, be equalized between students attending public and private four-year institutions. Currently, private students receive up to $4,600 while public four-year students receive up to $2,150. Nixon's budget would place all awards at $2,850. Legislation is expected to be introduced in the coming week in both the House and the Senate that would change the statutes for Access to equalize the awards.

Attendees at the meeting noted that Missouri ranks 47th in per-capita support for public higher education, yet the state ranks fourth in the percent of state need-based aid that is provided to students attending private schools. University of Missouri leaders have been supportive of plans to equalize the awards for four-year students.

Senate Education Committee hears bill creating at-large curator

Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) presented SB255 before the Senate Education Committee Feb. 11. The bill would change statutory language regarding selection of the University of Missouri Board of Curators so that the state must have "at least one but no more than two" members from each congressional district. The bill would solve the issue of what to do if the state drops to eight congressional districts after the next census. Missouri currently has nine districts and statutes indicate that no more than one curator can be from the same congressional district.

UM Vice President for Government Relations Steve Knorr provided testimony in support of the bill on behalf of the curators. No action was taken on the bill.

Nixon announces Thompson Center Funding

Gov. Jay Nixon visited MU's Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Feb.11 to announce the release of $5 million from the Fiscal Year 2009 capital improvement budget to construct a new state-of-the-art facility for the center.

"During these difficult economic times, we've had to make tough choices about how to spend our limited capital improvement resources as effectively and responsibly as possible," Nixon said. "The Thompson Center is known throughout the region for providing high-quality care and support for children with autism and their families. An expanded, updated facility will help the Thompson Center provide services for even more Missourians." Local Representatives Chris Kelly (D) and Mary Still (D) also attended the press conference.

UMSL College of Business Administration receives pledge from Anheuser-Busch

The Anheuser-Busch Foundation has pledged $2.5 million over the next five years to the University of Missouri-St. Louis toward the construction of a new College of Business Administration building. UMSL is in the early stages of fundraising and planning for the new Anheuser-Busch Hall to house the business school's classrooms, research, technology and meeting facilities under one roof.

"Anheuser-Busch has long recognized and supported the unique role UMSL plays in educating St. Louis's work force," said UMSL Chancellor Tom George. "We have more alumni living and working in this region than any other university. This deeply appreciated gift will help ensure that UMSL in general and the business college specifically continue to provide St. Louis with innovative, award-winning academic programming and diverse alumni who assume leadership roles in companies and organizations large and small."

This new building will streamline the current business school operations, offering students and faculty a centralized place to collaborate, interact and share ideas within their specific disciplines. It will feature cutting edge classrooms, modern computer laboratories, faculty offices, seminar and conference rooms and student organization suites.

MU women's soccer team visits Capitol

Members of the University of Missouri-Columbia's women's soccer team came to the Missouri State Capitol and visited with Gov. Jay Nixon Feb. 11 to be recognized for winning the Big 12 championship.

Click here to see additional photos from the visit.

UMSL hosts legislative reception

The University of Missouri-St. Louis hosted a reception for legislators Feb. 8. The event attracted numerous elected officials and education leaders, including, from left, Jane Goode and her husband, former state Senator Wayne Goode; state Rep. Rick Stream, (R-Kirkwood); and UMSL Chancellor Thomas George.

B.W. Robinson receives honorary doctor of laws degree from MU

B.W. Robinson, a Senate doorkeeper who received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia in December, was honored during a Senate reception at the Capitol Feb. 9. Robinson spent many years with the Department of Education and established the state's vocational education programs. An MU graduate, he also served as president of the MU Alumni Association.

For additional photos from the event, click here.

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