April 6, 2009

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Senate Appropriations Committee considers higher education budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee began consideration of HB3 last week. Each appropriations bill is reviewed by the entire committee twice. The committee should begin the mark-up process this week when amendments to the House of Representatives budget suggestions can be offered.

The committee amendment process takes approximately five to seven days. It is predicted that the full Senate will take up all the FY10 budget bills when they return from a short Easter Break April 14. After approval by the full Senate, conference committees will be appointed for each bill. All 13 operating budget bills must be passed by 6 p.m. May 8.

Chancellors, students testify in support of Access Missouri legislation

The chancellors from all four University of Missouri campuses along with several students testified last week before both the House and Senate Higher Education Committees in support of legislation that would equalize Access Missouri financial aid scholarships for all four-year students in Missouri. Access scholarships are need-based awards funded by the state that are provided to more than 8,200 students in the University of Missouri System. Current policy provides up to $4,600 for private school students and $2,150 for public school students. The new legislation would place all four-year school recipients at $2,850.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, Missouri S&T Chancellor Jack Carney and UMSL Chancellor Tom George joined student leaders from the campuses, the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, representatives of the Mizzou Legislative Network and the MU Parents Association in support of HB792 and SB390.

In the House, HB792 has yet to be formally referred to the committee, so the hearing was billed as a discussion. The committee will hear from opponents Tuesday. In the Senate, SB390 was referred to the Senate Education Committee and a formal hearing was conducted Wednesday. Opponents of that legislation will testify this week as well.

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Missouri Senate confirms Downing as UM curator

The Missouri Senate confirmed Don Downing’s appointment to the University of Missouri Board of Curators April 2 and he was sworn in during the university’s board meeting in Rolla that same day.

Downing, originally of Kennett, Mo., is an attorney in St. Louis and has also served as chief deputy attorney general in the office of the Missouri Attorney General. Downing has received numerous professional awards, including being named among the “Best Lawyers in St. Louis” by St. Louis Magazine. He has served on the University of Missouri-Columbia Law School Foundation Board of Trustees and the Law Library Campaign Committee, and he is an active member of the University of Missouri Jefferson Club.

Downing received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a juris doctorate, both from MU.

Downing is replacing the seat vacated by retiring curator Marion Cairns of Webster Groves.The nine-member board of curators serves as the governing body of the University of Missouri. Curators are appointed by the governor, and must be approved by the Senate. Terms of service for curators are six years, with the terms of three curators expiring every two years. There are two remaining open seats on the board for the term beginning in 2009; Gov. Nixon has not yet made these appointments.

House immigration bill passes out of committee

The International Trade and Immigration Committee voted out House Committee Substitute for HB390 April 1, which modifies the omnibus immigration legislation passed last year. The bill addresses several concerns the higher education community has related to last year’s immigration legislation, including removing postsecondary education, state grants and scholarships from the definition of public benefit. It also adds a new section that clearly defines “postsecondary education public benefits” and “covered students” and describes acceptable forms of identification that may be used to verify a person’s legal status. The university has been instrumental in developing may of those changes.

House hears higher education bonding resolution

The House Special Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Transportation held a hearing March 31 on HJR32, co-sponsored by Reps. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and Steve Tilley (R-Perryville). University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee testified before the committee, along with representatives of other higher education institutions in the state, business leaders, and students. The committee then approved the resolution by a unanimous vote. The resolution will now go to the Rules committee before being reported to the House floor for debate.

HJR32 proposes a constitutional amendment authorizing the General Assembly to issue bonds to fund higher education building improvements, construction, landscaping and land purchases. Upon voter approval, the amendment would authorize the issuance of up to $700 million in bonds.


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