March 6, 2009

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House Budget Committee hears higher education FY10 budget

Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), chair of the House Budget Committee, introduced HB3, the first version of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for higher education this week. All Missouri public higher education institutions received an initial recommendation for funding at the FY09 level. UM System President Gary Forsee and the other public two- and four-year institutions had reached an agreement earlier with Gov. Jay Nixon that all public higher education institutions would not increase student tuition in the coming year if funding from the state remained at FY09 levels.

The University of Missouri received an appropriation of approximately $451 million for the current year. That same total is recommended for the coming year. Icet is utilizing $49 million in federal stimulus funds to replace declining state general revenue.

The House Budget Committee will complete its review of all budget bills and begin the amendment process next week. The House of Representatives is expected to begin voting on the budget after its legislative spring break, which began March 12. The General Assembly will return to the Capitol March 23.

Kelly, Tilley introduce bonding amendment for higher education construction

Reps. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), an MU alum, and House Majority Leader Steve Tilley (R-Perryville), an UMSL alum, introduced HJR32 this week, a proposed constitutional amendment that would authorize the state to issue up to $700 million in state bonds for public higher education construction. The bond proceeds could be used for repair and maintenance and new construction at two- and four-year institutions across the state. Voter approval would be required.

"We have been talking to the governor's office and members of the General Assembly concerning new construction projects for the University of Missouri totaling $1 billion, including those that were originally funded under the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative," said UM System President Gary Forsee. "We also have deferred maintenance, repair and renovation needs totaling $800 million. The federal stimulus bill seems to promote a clear incentive for states to issue bonding that can support new construction. We appreciate any effort by our elected officials to provide some much-needed relief in this area."

The bill is expected to be assigned to a committee next week. A hearing will likely be scheduled after the legislative spring break.

Senators perfect bill to create at-large curator

Senators perfected SB255 by a voice vote March 4, which would allow for an at-large member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators should the state lose a congressional seat after the next census. The Missouri Constitution states that the university shall be governed by a nine member board, and state statutes say no more than one member can be from the same congressional district. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) changes the statute to say that there must be "at least one but no more than two" members from each congressional district. The language would create an at-large position should the state drop to eight districts as many expect after the 2010 census.

An amendment offered by Sen. Jeff Smith (D-St. Louis) would have changed the language and placed a voting graduate student on the board as the ninth member. That amendment was defeated by a 22-9 vote, and legislators then went on to perfect the underlying at-large bill. It still requires a final roll call vote to move to the House.

A bill that would do the same thing, HB515, has been introduced in the House by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff). That bill was adopted unanimously by the House Higher Education Committee March 3.

University students, alumni and supporters advocate for Access Missouri legislation

Several groups supporting the University of Missouri are organizing to advocate for legislation that would equalize the Access Missouri scholarship awards for students attending both public and private institutions. Currently, students receiving the scholarship and choosing to attend private institutions receive up to $4,600, while students at the University of Missouri and other public institutions are limited to $2,150.

SB390 and HB292 have been introduced to equalize the award so that all four-year students receive the same amount regardless of which institution they choose to attend. The legislation has been a priority for the university and its alumni and student groups.

The Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) has organized a press conference in the House Lounge of the Capitol at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 10 to bring together student leaders from public institutions across the state to promote the legislation. The meeting will include the bill sponsors: Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) and Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff).

University alumni, parent and student organizations are encouraging members to contact legislators in support of the legislation. The Senate bill has been assigned to the Senate Education Committee chaired by Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), but no hearing has been scheduled. In the House, the bill is still waiting to be assigned to a committee.

Governor, lawmakers congratulate Mizzou Tiger football team for Alamo Bowl win

Twenty members of the 2008 Mizzou Tiger football team along with Coach Gary Pinkel and several staff members visited Jefferson City March 4 to be congratulated for their 2008 Alamo Bowl victory over Northwestern University. The team met with Gov. Jay Nixon, who shared stories about his days at Mizzou. He stressed how the team had become important ambassadors for the state.

The team also was introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives by Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia) and received a proclamation from Still and Reps. Steve Hobbs (R-Mexico), Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and Stephen Webber (D-Columbia). Pinkel and senior Jeremy Maclin briefly addressed the House before going to the Senate where they were introduced by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia). Several senators spoke about their loyalty to Mizzou and excitement for the team. After comments from Pinkel, Maclin came forward and presented a signed football.

For additional photos from the event, click here.

Legislators coach health professions students

Keep it concise, be the expert and be specific about what you're asking for. That's the advice about 75 students, faculty, staff and alumni of the MU School of Health Professions received from current and former Missouri legislators in a student- sponsored Legislative Forum in the lobby of Lewis and Clark Hall on the MU campus Feb. 27.

The forum included a panel discussion with Reps. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) and Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and former Reps. Ed Robb and Judy Baker, both of Columbia. Missouri House Chief Clerk Adam Crumbliss and political consultant Jim Gwinner, who chairs the Mizzou Alumni Association's Legislative Network Committee, also attended. After taking turns offering advice on how to work with lawmakers, the group took questions about Caring for Missourians.

For additional photos from the event, click here.

Forsee visits with elected officials

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee met with the St. Louis Regional Caucus in the state Capitol this past week.

During dinner he encouraged legislators to help the university secure its budget objectives for FY10, as well as support the governor's plan for Access Missouri, at-large curator legislation and Caring for Missourians. He also discussed his pledges for an outside accounting assessment and transparency in operating procedures.

The St. Louis Regional Caucus is chaired by Sen. Rita Days (D-St. Louis) and Rep. Tim Jones (R-Eureka).

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center hosts Congressman Luetkemeyer

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer held a press conference and toured and visited with administrators at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia Feb. 27. After touring the outpatient clinics, he visited the Margaret Proctor Mulligan Breast Health and Research Program and the Radiation Oncology unit. The tour ended at the Ambulatory Infusion unit.

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center Medical Director Dr. Bill Caldwell and MU Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Dr. Hal Williamson held a brief meeting with the congressman to discuss plans for the new Ellis Fischel building on the health sciences campus and the possibility of federal funding support.


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