March 20, 2015

State update:

capitol tulips

(Photo Credit: Senate Communications)

Senate committee beings work on higher education spending plan

The Senate Appropriations Committee began markup of the FY16 spending bill for higher education on Wednesday. Senators discussed each spending line in HB 3 and decided which ones to close and which ones to leave open for further work after spring break.

For the University of Missouri System, the committee added three specific line items to the core budget: $1.4 million for an equity adjustment for UMSL introduced by Senator Gina Walsh (D-St. Louis); $500,000 for the urban neighborhood initiative project at UMKC introduced by Senator Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City); and $80,000 to fund cost of printing of the official state manuals introduced by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) who chairs the committee. Those items will be conference committee topics since they were not included in the House version.

The committee did not close on the core performance funding increase line and will consider that later in the process. The House passed version includes a 1.3 percent core increase.

Funding for the continued expansion of the MU School of Medicine was added to the budget in committee (See related story). The senate committee also closed on House positions on several university-related items including the Kidney program, Spinal Cord Injury Fund, State Historical Society, and telemedicine expansion.

MU School of Medicine expansion funding reinstated in Senate committee

A plan to continue to expand enrollment at MU’s School of Medicine to provide a pool of students to complete their medical education in a clinical partnership in Springfield gained support of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week. The Committee closed on an appropriation of $10 million in HB3 offered by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) to continue the expansion that started two years ago. The University has already expanded the enrollment for the first cohort of students and began other arrangements to establish the program with CoxHealth and Mercy in Springfield.

The House did not include any funding for the expansion in its version of the budget, so final decisions will be made in budget conference.

Senate passes bonding package for capital improvements

The Senate revised and passed a bill this week aimed at providing capital support for higher education and other state facilities, but the changes leave some uncertainty as to whether higher education can use the funds for state matches of 50-50 building projects.

SB 330, sponsored by Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) was passed this week after a number of changes were made in a floor substitute on Monday. The bill provides the remainder of $200 million for maintenance and repair of higher education facilities not already appropriated. (MU received $38.5 million for Lafferre Hall renovations last year as part of the package). The revised bill speeds up the payoff of the bonds, which would fund one major renovation on each UM campus.

The senate version of the bill also includes $250 million in funds for renovations of the State Capitol Building and other state facilities, as well as $75 million that can be used for new construction of state facilities. The University of Missouri is hoping to use a portion of those funds for matches for our 50-50 projects, but it is not clear the language as passed by the Senate allows that.

House leaders are reviewing the proposal to determine how to move forward with their version of the plan. UM President Tim Wolfe came to Jefferson City March 18 to meet with Senate and House leaders to discuss the university’s requests and plans moving forward.

Both maintenance and repair and 50-50 projects would still have to be approved as part of a capital improvement bill. House members will begin to review those proposals when they return from Spring Break.

Telemedicine bill voted out of House committee

A bill to clarify and improve telehealth services to Missourians across the state passed out of the House Select Committee on Social Services March 19. HB 319, sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), defines sites that can provide telehealth services and eligible health care providers who can provide services. The bill will now go to the House floor for debate. The University of Missouri is home to the Missouri Telehealth Network, which works to provide more care in underserved areas, educational opportunities for health care providers, and collaborative research opportunities.

Senate committee passes bills to continue health provider taxes

The Senate Appropriations committee heard and passed SBs 210, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265 this week. All of these bills are related to the hospital federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) which is also known as the provider taxes. Hospitals and other health providers tax themselves in order to match additional funding from the federal government. The state authorization for these taxes expires on September 30. The University of Missouri System testified in favor of SB210 and SB260, both which extend the hospital FRA.

Dairy Revitalization Act, scholarship plan headed to Governor’s desk

A comprehensive plan to revitalize Missouri’s dairy industry through a margin insurance program and new scholarship initiative for college students majoring in agriculture is on its way to Governor Nixon. HB 259, sponsored by Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho), was Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed on March 19. The bill establishes a dairy margin insurance plan that was drafted in part with the help of Dr. Scott Brown, assistant professor of animal science at MU.

The plan also includes a scholarship in the form of a forgivable loan and would provide 80 scholarships at $5,000 each to students who major in agriculture and also do internships in the dairy industry in Missouri. For those students who graduate and stay in Missouri to work in the agriculture industry, the loans would be forgiven. The University of Missouri, along with Associated Students of the University of Missouri and a number of agriculture students from MU, all testified in support of the bill, which now goes to the Governor for his consideration.

CAFNR MU

Above: CAFNR students work in one of Mizzou’s dairy facilities. The new agriculture scholarship could help future students in dairy and agriculture fields. (Photo Credit: CAFNR Corner Post)

Extension bills advance through committees

The two bills clarifying language for county-level MU Extension activities advanced through their respective committees this week. HB 981, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), clarifies that county commissioners who also serve on county extension councils can vote on matters before the council without it being considered a conflict of interest. It was voted out of the House Local Government Committee and referred to the Select Committee on State and Local Government on March 17. The bill will likely have a hearing before the committee once legislators return from next week’s spring break.

HB 982, also sponsored by Rowden, clarifies that county Extension councils have the ability to obtain financing to purchase buildings or land. The bill was voted out of the House Higher Education Committee on March 17, referred to the House Select Committee on Education, and voted out of committee on March 19. The bill will soon be placed on the House calendar for perfection, which will likely occur after spring break.

Legislator Profile: Rep. Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe)

Lair

One popular piece of advice that Rep. Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe) likes to share with students is “remember to give back.” That advice was what led him to seek elected office, where he contributes his experience and expertise on education issues as chair of the House Select Education committee. There, he sees the direct connection between higher education and economic development in Missouri.

“In elected office, we deal with job creation with higher education. I believe in the full impact in education,” he explains. “I had a very broad high school education—Latin, Greek, rhetoric, philosophy–and I believe in the overall education rather than specific. The state needs to get the most bang for their buck, when it comes to preparing students for the workforce. I believe that comes through educating the whole person.”

Rep. Lair received a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a master’s in education from Central Methodist University. Before his election to office in 2008, Rep. Lair spent 38 years giving back to numerous communities as a high school teacher and coach. He knows that success in higher education comes from a well-rounded secondary education, which, in some cases like the new innovation campus model, can make higher education more affordable.

Rep. Lair praises the campuses for also spurring economic development in the state. “Look at the program between Lee Summit High School and the Kansas City-area colleges,” said Lair. “These colleges provide direct connections for the student to graduate high school with an associate’s degree, and a possible four-year degree in only two years of college without owing a penny. This happens because of the many internships that turn into jobs in the state of Missouri.

Federal update:

House and Senate introduce FY 2016 Budget Resolutions

House and Senate Budget Committees this week introduced fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget resolutions that outline a federal budget plan for the next ten years. Budget resolutions provide an outline for the federal budget and funding allocations for the annual spending bills but do not have the force of law. While they propose ideas such as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), additional legislation would need to pass to carry out such major policy changes.

Both the House and Senate plans promise to balance the federal budget in 10 years with no increases to taxes. Both resolutions would make substantial changes to the Pell Grant and student aid programs, increase funding for Defense, and cut Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) funding. Neither resolution would overturn the existing budget caps in place because of sequestration.

It is unclear whether the House or Senate will be able to advance the budget resolutions past the Committees. The Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) continue to encourage institutions of higher education to communicate the importance of lifting the caps on Non-Defense Discretionary funding in any budget discussions.

UM faculty discuss technology, STEM with delegation

Several UM System faculty were in Washington, D.C. this week to encourage the Missouri delegation to support funding for the Small Business Administration. State director Chris Bouchard and associate director Greg Tucker from the Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers (MO SBTDC) at MU, along with UMKC Innovation Center director Maria Meyers, met with several members of the Congressional Delegation.

Martha McCabe, Manager of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiatives for the KC STEM Alliance at UMKC, was also in Washington D.C. this week to participate in a congressional briefing hosted by the Carnegie Science Center. The briefing provided congressional members and staff with background on the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway that allows schools to develop and assess individualized STEM programs.

Keep up with key higher education legislation here.

There will NOT be an update next week due to the legislative spring break.