Fiscal Year 2011 budget passed
The Budget Conference Committee finished its work more than a week before the constitutionally required May 7 deadline, and Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bills have been sent to the governor for his signature. Per their agreement with the governor, all public higher education institutions will receive a 5.2 percent reduction to their core budgets in exchange for keeping in-state, undergraduate tuition flat for the next school year.
All UM-related items, including Telehealth and MOREnet, received percentage reductions to their budgets. Additionally, funding for the Access Missouri Scholarship Program was reduced by $13 million. The bills must be signed by the governor by June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. The governor has line-item veto and withholding authority on all appropriations bills.
In other appropriations news, HB2016 , the supplemental re-appropriations bill, was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee April 29. The committee adopted an amendment to remove the $31 million added by the House for Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Some members of the committee voiced their support for the cancer center; however, a majority of committee members decided against redirecting funds designated for transportation purposes. The removal of the $31 million in Senate committee would allow the bill to go to conference to resolve the differences with the House, but the bill must pass the Senate floor before this becomes an option. Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) was the only member to vote in favor of the proposed funding.
Senate Education Committee considers Access Missouri legislation
The Senate Education Committee heard HB1473  April 28. The bill includes components of an agreement reached by the state’s public and private two- and four-year institutions to equalize Access Missouri Scholarship awards beginning in 2014. It also reduces the GPA requirement for renewal of the scholarship from 2.5 to 2.0 for the first 60 credit hours. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), was passed by the House last week, and is one of four bills that includes identical Access Missouri language necessary to make the changes.
Currently, students attending private institutions can receive up to $4,600 in awards, while awards are capped at $2,150 and $1,000 for those attending public four-year institutions and community colleges, respectively. The new legislation equalizes awards for four-year students at $2,850, regardless of whether they attend a public or private institution. It also increases the community-college award to $1,300. The bill would leave current award levels in place until the fall of 2014.
Among those organizations testifying in support of the bill were the Council on Public Higher Education, the Missouri Community College Association, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri, and the Associated Students of the University of Missouri. The committee did not vote on the bill.
Undergraduates present research at the Capitol
More than 40 undergraduate students from across the UM system visited with legislators and staffers during Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol April 29. Students displayed posters outlining their research and provided summaries to legislators from their hometowns. The group also was introduced before the House and the Senate.
This annual event is organized to showcase the unique research opportunities available to undergraduates at UM. Research topics included: autism, charter schools, math education, plant sciences, biofuels, and the engineering of roads and bridges.
Rep. Jeff Roorda (D-Barnhart) listens as MU student Ben Christ, from Imperial, Mo., shares his findings related to migrant bird species.
Click here  to view additional photos from the event.
Mizzou gymnastics team honored in House, Senate
Members of the Mizzou Women’s Gymnastics Team toured the Capitol and were recognized before the House and Senate April 28. The team completed its most successful season in history, advancing to the NCAA Women’s Collegiate National Championships, and ending the season ranked No. 12 nationally.
Members of the Mizzou Women’s Gymnastics Team and their coaches pose at the State Capitol with Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia).
University, public officials gather to break ground on plant science center in Mexico, Mo.
U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, Gov. Jay Nixon, and University of Missouri System President Gary Forsee were among the dignitaries on hand April 26 to break ground on the Missouri Plant Science Center in Mexico, Mo. The 25,000-square-foot facility will house wet and dry laboratories, office space, and manufacturing equipment to process soybeans and other plant-based material into value-added products. The Center was funded through state support, Community Development Block Grants from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, and support from the Missouri Technology Corporation, the University of Missouri System and the city of Mexico.
Sen. Kit Bond discusses the importance of collaboration during groundbreaking ceremonies for the Missouri Plant Science Center in Mexico.
Gov. Jay Nixon emphasizes how research can lead to quality jobs for Missourians.
Officials prepare to break ground on the Plant Science Center. From left, Jason Hall, director, Missouri Technology Center; Jon Hagler, director, Missouri Department of Agriculture; Rep. Steve Hobbs (R-Mexico); Gary Forsee, president, UM System; U.S. Senator Kit Bond; Gov. Jay Nixon; Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence); Ron Loesch, mayor, city of Mexico; Joe Bannister, chair, Missouri Technology Corporation.
Click here  to view a press release on the groundbreaking from the governor’s office.
To view a video clip of Gov. Nixon’s remarks, click here .
To view a video clip of Sen. Bond’s remarks, click here .
To view a video clip of President Forsee’s remarks, click here .
Representatives from UM Extension attended the annual Public Interest Legislative Day Conference in Washington, D.C. The twelve-member group met with the entire Missouri delegation, and posed for a photograph with U.S. Sen. Kit Bond.