Sept. 18, 2009

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President visits with Missouri Congressional Delegation in D.C.

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with several members of the Missouri Congressional Delegation. Meetings included Sens. Kit Bond and Claire McCaskill and Reps. Lacy Clay, Russ Carnahan, Ike Skelton, Emmanuel Cleaver, Sam Graves, Roy Blunt, JoAnn Emerson and Blaine Luetkemeyer. Forsee discussed various higher education topics including stimulus funding, federal student aid and lending proposals, and a spring health summit being planned in Kansas City.

CBHE approves FY11 higher education budget

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education approved a Fiscal Year 2011 core institutional appropriation request totaling $956,475,305 million for public higher education institutions at its Sept. 9-10 meeting. The amount includes requested general revenue replacement for the $104.78 million of federal budget stabilization dollars that were used for core institutional budgets in FY10. Of the total, $451.47 million was included for the University of Missouri System, which is the same amount appropriated in FY10.

The CBHE also approved an alternative set of recommendations to build further awareness that additional investment in higher education is needed even though funding is not expected to be available this year. Included in the alternative recommendations: Maintaining Quality and Opportunity through funding core missions, and Improving Quality and Opportunity through a maintenance, repair and equipment strategic initiative and a separate request for Rewarding Quality and Results through a performance-funding pilot. The requests will now be submitted to the governor’s office. Most of the university’s budget requests submitted by the board of curators was included in the alternative request.

Governor’s vetoes stand; future House leadership named during special session

Missouri lawmakers did not override any of Gov. Nixon’s vetoes Sept. 16 during the annual Veto Session in Jefferson City. Although House members discussed a bill related to federal stimulus funding and access to the Capitol dome, no votes to override the governor’s actions were successful.

While in town, the House Republican and Democratic Caucuses met to elect their eventual leaders after the 2010 elections. Republicans selected Rep. Steve Tilley (R-Perryville) to succeed current House Speaker Ron Richard after the next election. Tilley currently serves as majority floor leader and is a graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. House Democrats selected Rep. Mike Talboy (D-Kansas City) to serve as speaker designee should they win back the majority after the 2010 election. Talboy has undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Democrats would need to pick up eight or more seats in the election to gain the majority.

Joint Committee on Capital Improvements discusses priority report

The committee charged with ranking all state projects that could possibly be funded with federal budget stabilization funds met this week and approved a list of projects for higher education and other state departments. The list, designed to provide a degree of order should funds become available for capital improvements, include Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at MU and Benton Stadler Hall in St. Louis. This list also includes remaining projects for UM not yet funded by the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative and support for engineering equipment.

Committee members specified that the list was not intended to represent recommendations that all of the projects be funded.

Joint Committee on Education hears from new DESE commissioner

The Joint Committee on Education met Sept. 16 to hear from Chris Nicastro, newly appointed commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. A major priority will be the development of a proposal for grant funding under the federal Race to the Top initiative aimed at helping states improve teacher quality, standards assessment, data systems and turning around struggling schools.

Nicastro noted other goals of the department:

  • Moving Missouri to the top quartile of states in student performance
  • Providing quality universal early childhood opportunities for 3- to 4-year-olds
  • Recruiting and supporting quality teachers and administrators and doing a better job of supporting those who reflect high standards
  • Improving the department’s efficiency and effectiveness and its relationships with external constituencies

Nicastro cited challenges that included dealing with the issue of open enrollment, reviewing and improving the state’s charter school laws and tackling the issues surrounding governance in urban schools. The committee also announced plans to hold three hearings this fall on the issue of open enrollment in Branson, St. Louis at the UMSL campus and in the western part of the state.

Stacey Pries, who staffs the committee, provided updates on three studies she is completing regarding urban school governance, open enrollment and charter schools. She also noted that there are two other research reports on the horizon related to higher education involving the funding formula prepared by the Department of Higher Education for the public institutions, as well as the inclusion of proprietary schools in Access Missouri. Those two reports are required by statute as part of Senate Bill 389, passed in 2007.

The Senate Educated Citizenry 2020 Committee did not meet this week, but has held two organizational meetings in the past month to prepare for its tasks of identifying and achieving education goals for the state. Chaired by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), the committee is planning to have hearings this fall to gather public input.

Joint Committee on Oversight of Federal Stimulus and Stabilization Fund meets

The Joint Committee on Oversight of Federal Stimulus and Stabilization Funds, chaired by Sen. Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville) met Sept. 15 and heard from State Budget Director Linda Luebbering regarding the current budget picture and federal stabilization support for the coming year.

Luebbering noted that education was one of three categories eligible for stabilization funds and that the state received $753 million for that category over a two-year period. For FY10, $564 million was appropriated to education and higher education, leaving $189 million for FY11.

She also said that revenue projections are down 6.9 percent from last year, or approximately $800 million below the state’s estimated revenue intake. Positive growth of 4.2 percent would be needed to meet projections. The July and August numbers were down 5.6 percent from last July and August.

The governor has already made $430 million in spending cuts, and additional cuts may be required to balance the budget. Luebbering said that deep cuts are required for the next couple of years, even with the stabilization funds. Despite economists’ forecasts that the recession is over, there has been no rebound in unemployment with none expected for a while.

The committee also discussed competitive grants for broadband, including a competitive process through the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture to expand broadband in rural Missouri. Thirty-four companies applied and will be contracting directly with the federal government. The goal is to cover 95 percent of Missouri within five years.

UMSL hosts campus discussion on conceal and carry

From left, UMSL Curators Professor of Criminology Richard Rosenfeld, Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis), Curator Teaching Professor of Political Science Dave Robertson, and Sen. Jim Lembke R-South St. Louis) participate in UMSL’s annual Constitution Day. As part of its annual educational event celebrating the signing of the U.S. Constitution, UMSL hosted a point/counterpoint debate on Missouri’s conceal and carry law on Sept. 17. The debate featured Rep. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) speaking in favor of gun control and Sen. Jim Lembke (R- St. Louis) speaking in favor of the right to bear arms.

The annual celebration is designed to develop habits of citizenship in a new generation. This year’s Constitution Day featured presentations on the second amendment and its status in Missouri today.

Joint Committee on Missouri’s Energy Future selects co-chairs

The Joint Committee on Missouri’s Energy Future established this year by the General Assembly met for the first time Sept. 16 to elect leadership. The committee will be co-chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone). The committee will prepare and submit a report to the General Assembly by Dec. 31 regarding Missouri's energy needs to determine a strategy to ensure a plentiful, affordable and clean supply of electricity to meet the needs of Missouri residents and businesses for the next 25 years.

Healthy Missourians 2020 committee meets

Chaired by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale), the Healthy Missourians 2020 committee met for the first time Sept. 15 to explore the future of health care in Missouri and identify effective and creative ways to address the state’s health care issues. The committee elected Sen. Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) as vice chair.

Four meetings are scheduled for the fall, with each meeting addressing specific topics:

  • The Oct. 1 meeting will be held in Kansas City to discuss quality and coordination of care, transparency and health information technology and exchange.
  • The Oct. 29 meeting will be held in St. Louis to discuss chronic diseases and causes, wellness and prevention, long-term care and public health preparedness.
  • The Nov. 19 meeting in Springfield will discuss affordability and portability of coverage, Medicaid reform opportunities and improving access and reducing costs.
  • A December meeting also will be held with the location yet to be determined.
    For more information on the committee, visit http://www.senate.mo.gov/09info/comm/special/20HM.htm

Senate Job Creation 2020 committee meets

The committee charged with long-range planning and developing a strategy for the state’s job creation initiatives in the next decade met this week and made plans for its upcoming hearings. The panel will hold three hearings around the state this fall, including one at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Invited presenters will respond to a similar set of questions to gather input.

Committee chair Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) noted that a discussion of the relationship between economic development and higher education should be incorporated into the MU session at the request of Sen. Brad Lager (R-Maryville), who was elected as vice chair for the committee.

Job Creation 2020 is one of three special Senate committees formed to take a long-range view of state policy needs in the areas of health care, education and economic development.

Alumni Alliance holds annual fall meeting

The University of Missouri Alliance of Alumni Associations held its annual fall meeting Sept. 11. President Gary Forsee spoke to the group about the top 10 higher education issues, his strategic priorities for 2009 and the accountability measures he has established for the university. Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), vice chair of the Senate Education committee and a Senate Appropriations committee member, discussed last year’s higher education legislative efforts and expectations for next year, followed by a discussion by Department of Higher Education Deputy Commissioner Paul Wagner who discussed the state’s current fiscal situation and what to expect with Missouri’s budget over the next few years.

The alliance is chaired by Larry Hendren and is composed of members from all four UM campus alumni associations and University Extension. The next Alumni Alliance event will be participation in the university’s Legislative Day scheduled for March 2, 2010.

Congressman Cleaver visits UMKC

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (center) visits with Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team members during his recent visit to campus.Congressman Emanuel Cleaver spoke with members of the UMKC Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) team at the UMKC Bloch School of Business and Public Administration Aug. 6. Cleaver shared his insight on China relations and answered questions to offer his support for the student’s upcoming international trip.

This September, a team of seven SIFE members from across UMKC disciplines will go to Nanjing University in Nanjing, China, to make presentations to help Chinese students adjust to campus life in the United States. Under the theme, “Western Interaction & Social Poise: How to be Successful in the Modern American Society,” topics will include an overview of American culture, etiquette and professionalism, as well as highlights of UMKC study and social life.

Congressmen Cleaver is a member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and has been a part of an initiative addressing climate change with the Chinese, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

State Icon Federal relations

U.S. House passes legislation to phase out private lending program; increase Pell grants

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 by a vote of 253-171 on Sept. 17. It will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House student loan bill would achieve $87 billion in savings over 10 years by eliminating the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program and moving new student loans into the Direct Loan program.  Of the $87 billion in savings, $40 billion would be allocated to mandatory funding for Pell Grants, ensuring an increase in the maximum grant to $5,550 in FY10 and providing guaranteed inflationary increases in subsequent years. The remaining savings would be used for non-student aid programs such as K-12 facilities modernization grants, the president’s community college initiative and deficit reduction. For more information, visit http://www.nchelp.org/elibrary/
BudgetReconciliation&HEAReauthorization/Legislation/
2009Legislation/HR3221NCHELPSummary07-21-09b.pdf
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