Feb. 27, 2009

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UM System President testifies before legislators on FY10 budget

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee spoke to Senate and House appropriators Feb. 24 about the FY10 budget and financial challenges facing the University of Missouri.

According to an agreement between the state's public higher education institutions and the governor, UM will be held to a flat budget for Fiscal Year 2010 in exchange for not increasing tuition rates in the coming year.

Forsee and the board of curators have arrived at several short- and long-term actions to protect the university's key resources and help mitigate FY09-10 budget issues, including initiating a hiring and salary freeze, reducing expenditures and instituting an employee contribution to the retirement plan to preserve funding.

Forsee also indicated that he wants to ensure the educational pipeline from pre-kindergarten through obtaining a bachelor's degree is strong and that Missouri prepares more students for higher education. He has agreed to perform an audit on accountability measures, benchmarks and objectives for the university, and is committed to growing revenue from technology transfers.

Senate begins debate on at-large curator legislation; House hears similar bill

SB255, introduced by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), was brought up for consideration by the Missouri Senate Feb. 25. The bill would change statutory language so that the governor could select an at-large member for the University of Missouri Board of Curators should the state lose a congressional district in the next census. After initial discussion and presentation, an amendment was offered by Sen. Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis) that would replace the original language in the bill with a version that created a voting student curator.

The board of curators previously adopted a resolution in opposition to that proposal since it opened the door to a constituency-based board rather than a lay board. During floor debate on the amendment, a second amendment was offered by Sen. Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City) that would change "student" to "parent" throughout Smith's amendment. After brief discussion, the bill was placed on the informal calendar and no votes were taken. It is anticipated that the Senate will take the bill up for further consideration the first week of March.

In the House, a similar bill to create an at-large curator was introduced by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), chairman of the House Higher Education Committee. HB515 was heard before the committee Feb. 24. Former board of curators Chair Tom Atkins of Columbia provided testimony in support of the legislation. Students with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) testified in opposition to the bill and argued for a voting student curator. The committee took no action on the measure.

House Appropriations - Education Committee announces survey results

Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), chair of the House Appropriations - Education Committee, announced the results of a survey of committee members that ranked in priority order currently funded programs in House Bill 2 - Elementary and Secondary Education and House Bill 3 - Higher Education. The committee had previously determined that the core budget for the School Foundation Formula and the core budgets of the state's community colleges and universities should receive the highest prority. University-related programs, including MOREnet, the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mt. Vernon and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health in St. Louis, were all ranked very highly.

Nursing student loan bill advances

The bill that would allow full- or part-time doctoral students to take advantage of the current Nursing Student Loan Program has passed the Senate and advanced to the House. Senate Bill 152, sponsored by Sen. Dan Clemens (R-Webster) was first read in the House on Feb. 26. It should be assigned to a committee next week.

Legislators tour University Hospital

University Hospital and Clinics hosted three legislators Feb. 23 to discuss time-critical diagnoses and resources UHC can provide. Sen. Carl Vogel (R-Jefferson City) and Reps. Wayne Cooper (R-Camdenton) and Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) visited the emergency room and ambulance bay, the cardiac intensive care unit and the outpatient physical therapy facilities to learn more about a stroke or heart attack patient's experiences. The tour arose out of HB 1790 passed in 2008 by the General Assembly to improve Missouri's emergency medical response system. The bill authorized the Department of Health and Senior Services to create a new system of care called the time-critical diagnosis system for stroke and STEMI, a time-sensitive form of heart attack. The law would allow such patients to be automatically transferred to health centers that are equipped to handle their complex cases and provide rapid treatment.


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