March 5, 2010

State relations

University supporters turn out for annual Alumni Alliance Legislative Day March 2

Alumni and supporters from the University of Missouri’s four campuses and Extension converged on the Capitol March 2 to visit with legislators and encourage support for the university’s legislative priorities. Alumni from various campuses invited legislators to mix and mingle in the morning, then gathered in the rotunda to hear from UM System President Gary Forsee and Gov. Jay Nixon. Supporters also visited legislators throughout the day and encouraged support for the operating budget, capital projects, Access Missouri and other priorities.

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Alumni, students and friends of the university attend a rally featuring Gov. Jay Nixon and UM System President Gary Forsee during Legislative Day March 2. For more photos from Legislative Day, click here.

Several displays in the Third Floor Rotunda featured university programs and initiatives related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The night before, the university honored six alumni and friends for their support of the University of Missouri System. The awards were presented by UM System President Gary Forsee at a dinner in Jefferson City.

Recipients were:

  • Outstanding Alumni Service to the University of Missouri System: Gov. Jay Nixon
  • Outstanding Alumni Service to the University of Missouri-Columbia: Sen. David Pearce
  • Outstanding Alumni Service to the University of Missouri-Kansas City: Dr. Cameron Lindsey
  • Outstanding Alumni Service to Missouri University of Science and Technology: Delbert Day, Ph.D.
  • Outstanding Alumni Service to the University of Missouri-St. Louis: Chris L. Nicastro, Ph.D.
  • Outstanding Alumni Service to Missouri Extension: Jim Snider

To read more about each recipient, click here.

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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon accepts the Outstanding Alumni Service Award from UM System President Gary Forsee during the Alumni Alliance Legislative Day Rally March 2 in the Capitol rotunda.

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Winners of Outstanding Alumni Service Awards from the University of Missouri System include, from left: Chris Nicastro, Jim Snider, Cameron Lindsey, Sen. David Pearce, and Delbert Day.

House Committee considers Access Missouri equalization bill

Representatives and students from public and private higher education institutions attended a hearing for HB1812 before the House Higher Education Committee March 2.  The bill, sponsored by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff) who also chairs the committee, is similar to SB874 heard two weeks ago in the Senate Education Committee.  The bills would equalize the need-based Access Missouri scholarships at $2,850 for students who attend both public and private four-year institutions.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton testified in support of the legislation on behalf of the Council on Public Higher Education. Others testifying in support of the bill included the MU Parents Association, Mizzou Alumni Association, Mizzou Flagship Council, Associated Students of the University of Missouri, Missouri Southern State University, and several students from public two- and four-year institutions.

Because of the large number of people testifying for and against the bill, the committee plans to discuss it at the next meeting scheduled following spring break.

The Senate counterpart has been passed by the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting calendar assignment. See a copy of the remarks here.

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UM President Gary Forsee, right, testifies in support of SB936 before the Senate Education Committee March 3. The bill is sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), left.

UM president testifies in support of science, technology, engineering and math education

University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee urged the Senate Education Committee March 3 to support legislation that would provide matching funds for institutions of higher education to enhance and increase the number of students studying in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.  SB936, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), would establish the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Initiative within the Department of Higher Education to appropriate funds to institutions for endowed teaching professors, scholarships, pre-college science camps and other activities designed to produce more students and graduates in these fields.

The hearing took place the week of Gov. Jay Nixon’s math, engineering, technology and science week. The committee did not take action on the bill. Read a copy of the press release issued about the president’s testimony here and see the text of Forsee’s remarks here.

Missouri budget projections discussed as spring break begins

Legislative spring break began upon adjournment March 4, closing a week in which Gov. Jay Nixon met with House and Senate leadership to discuss the state’s continuing revenue uncertainty.

For the first two thirds of Fiscal Year 2010, revenues declined 12.7 percent compared to FY09. February collections decreased by 14.6 percent, causing speculation of further withholdings for the current fiscal year. The governor also discussed revising the consensus revenue estimate for FY11, anticipating less revenue than the 3.6 percent increase originally projected in December 2009.  State leaders are debating whether the governor will release a new budget proposal for FY11 based on revised numbers, or whether House and Senate appropriators will revise the current budget proposal.

In preparation for hearings set to begin March 15, Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), chair of the House Budget Committee, released committee substitutes for the FY11 budget bills this week.  Few changes were made to HB2003, the higher education budget bill.  The recommendation for the University of Missouri’s core operating budget was consistent with the governor’s recommendation of $428.1 million, a 5.2 percent reduction. UM-related programs, such as Telehealth and Missouri Rehabilitation Center, also received recommendations consistent with the governor’s proposals. The House Appropriations–Education committee’s recommended increases of $1 million for MOREnet and $300,000 for the Missouri Kidney Program were not included in the committee substitute. When legislators return, all budget bills will be reviewed and subject to amendments in the House Budget committee.

New member of Coordinating Board for Higher Education confirmed

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Craig Van Matre, a Columbia attorney who has undergraduate and law degrees from MU, was confirmed this week as the newest member of the state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Van Matre (left) appeared March 3 before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee and was introduced to the committee by Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph), right. Van Matre was confirmed by the full Senate March 4.

Federal relations

U.S. House, Senate focus on jobs initiatives

By a vote of 217-201, the U.S. House passed H.R. 2847, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (HIRE). The legislation must still receive another vote in the Senate, further delaying implementation of the first portion of the Democrats’ “jobs agenda.” An additional part of this package, H.R. 4213, the Tax Extenders Act of 2009, will be considered by the House after the Senate finishes its three weeks of work on the package of tax extensions.

The centerpiece of H.R. 2847 – the $17.6 billion HIRE Act, is payroll tax relief for businesses that hire new workers, which would cost $13 billion over 10 years. The bill also includes extensions of the Highway Trust Fund, the Build America Bonds program and expense deductions for small businesses.

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