Jan. 28, 2011

Higher Education Appropriations Hearings Next Week

The Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and the House Appropriations – Education committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), will hold hearings on the FY 2012 higher education budget on February 1 and 2.  University of Missouri Interim President Steve Owens is scheduled to testify before both committees on February 2nd.  The hearings represent the first step in the budget-making process, which must be finalized by May 6th

Curators approve 5.5% tuition, required fee increase for the 2011-2012 academic year

On Friday, January 28th, the Board of Curators approved an average tuition and required fee increase of 5.5% for the University of Missouri System campuses. Previously, the Curators decoupled tuition among the campuses. The tuition and required fee  increases will be as follows for each UM campus:
UMSL: 4.7%
Missouri S&T: 6.6%
UMKC: 4.8%
MU: 5.8%

The Board also approved a process for course fee increases. Because the tuition and fee increases are above the Consumer Price Index (CPI), a waiver request is must be approved from the Commissioner of Higher Education pursuant to Missouri statute.

Curators weigh in on selection language as House prepares to hear bill

Missouri is set to lose one of its nine congressional districts as a result of the 2010 Census, causing a conflict with current state statutes governing selection of members of the Board of Curators.  Since the state constitution requires that there be nine curators, the statute requiring no more than one from the same congressional district must be changed.

On Friday January 28, the Board of Curators voted to support modifying the statutory language to require “at least one but no more than two” appointments from each congressional district.  HB 174, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson, (R-Maryville) is scheduled to be heard before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday. A similar bill, SB 163 has been filed in the Senate by Education Committee Chair David Pearce (R-Warrensburg).

Gov. Nixon appoints three new members to the Board of Curators

This week, Governor Jay Nixon appointed David Steward, Don Cupps, and Craig Van Matre to the Board of Curators for the University of Missouri. Steward, Cupps, and Van Matre will begin their terms upon confirmation by the Missouri Senate.

David Steward is the chairman of World Wide Technology, a leading provider both nationally and internationally of technology products and services to customers. He currently serves on the Executive Advisory Board of Gov. Nixon’s Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth. Steward will replace outgoing Curator David Wasinger.

Don Cupps has two degress from MU, a bachelors degree in agriculture economics and a J.D. from the MU School of Law. He practices law at Ellis, Cupps and Cole and is the attorney for the city of Cassville. Cupps will replace outgoing Curator John Carnahan.

Craig Van Matre has two degrees from MU, a bachelors degree in English, and a J.D. from the MU School of Law. He is president of the law firm Van Matre, Harrison, Hollis, Pitzer & Taylor in Columbia. Van Matre will replace outgoing Curator Bo Fraser.

MU Recognizes Sen. Kurt Schaefer, Sam Hawkins with Geyer Award

Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Sam Hawkins were awarded the 2010 Geyer Award by the Mizzou Alumni Association for their positive impact on higher education and for supporting the university.

Schaefer was recognized for his support of Mizzou in the Missouri Senate. Sam Hawkins was recognized for his commitment to MU Extension.

Each year the Mizzou Legislative Network of the Mizzou Alumni Association awards the Henry S. Geyer Award, named for Representative Geyer of St. Louis, the author of the Geyer Act of 1839, which established University of Missouri.

Geyer Award 1

Geyer awardees Senator Kurt Schaefer (left) and Sam Hawkins (right) with Mizzou Legislative Network Committee Chair Wally Pfeffer (center).

 Mizzou Alumni chapter hosts event for area legislators

The College of Arts & Science Alumni Organization and the Mizzou Legislative Network hosted its annual local legislative reception Thursday, January 27, in downtown Columbia. Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia), and Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) all participated in the event. The legislators discussed the University’s budget request and urged alumni to build strong relationships with their legislators across the state and encourage support for the University. Wally Pfeffer, chairman of the Mizzou Legislative Network steering committee, emceed the event.

Webber Photo

Rod & Susie Robison (left & right) visit with Rep. Stephen Webber (center) at the legislative reception on Thursday, January 27.

Jan. 21, 2011

Governor Gives State of the State Address

Governor Jay Nixon addressed a joint session of the General Assembly on January 19 to give his annual State of the State address.  He outlined a number of priorities for the year, primarily focusing on jobs and economic development. 

For the FY 2012 higher education budget, the Governor recommended a 7% decrease to the core budgets of public two-year and four-year institutions.  The University of Missouri would receive $398 million if the legislature adheres to the Governor’s recommendation.  His budget plan also includes funding equal to last year’s for the Missouri Kidney Program, Missouri Rehabilitation Center, and the State Historical Society.  The Telehealth budget would decrease under his recommendations. The University of Missouri has sent a Press Release regarding Governor Nixon’s budgetary recommendations.

The Governor also recommended discontinuing funding for three University-related items: MOREnet, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, and University Hospitals and Clinics.  In the case of the hospital’s funding, the line item in the higher education budget will no longer be necessary, as the Department of Social Services will now pay the state share of the hospital’s Medicaid claims. Legislators will now begin reviewing and revising the budget. The final budget must be passed by May 6th.

Governor Nixon’s budget recommendations can be found here.

Governor proposes expansion of A+ scholarship program, continued funding for Bright Flight and Access Missouri

Governor Nixon outlined several funding initiatives related to the state’s financial aid programs as part of his State of the State address Wednesday.  The A+ program, which provides tuition scholarships for students graduating from an approved high school and continuing at a two-year public or approved private institution, would receive an increase of $8 million targeted to expanding the program to the neediest students regardless of whether their school is approved to qualify for the A+ program.

Nixon also suggested a new Advanced Placement scholarship of $500 for students completing a math and science course and receiving an A+ or Access Missouri scholarship. Legislation has been introduced to authorize such an appropriation.

The Governor also vowed to continue funding for Bright Flight and Access Missouri at levels about equal to or slightly above this year’s appropriated amount.

Education committees begin to meet

 The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator David Pearce, (R-Warrensburg) will hold its first meeting January 26th to take up an elementary and secondary education bill. Pearce’s committee is expected to handle most higher education related legislation that comes through the upper chamber.

The House Higher Education Committee, Chaired by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) held an organizational session this week to introduce members. The Committee is expected to begin hearing bills in early February.

Higher education bills filed

Recently introduced higher education bills of note focus on such topics as the appointment of curators, bonding for capital improvements, expanding scholarships for the A+ program and for students passing advanced placement high school courses in science and math, and funding for nursing programs.

HB 174, HB 243, and HB 244 all relate to selection of the Board of Curators in light of the state’s impending loss of one congressional district. Since the state will drop from nine to eight districts, and since the Constitution requires that there be nine members of the Board of Curators, one district will have to have more than one appointment. Currently statutes call for no more than one appointment from each congressional district. These bills each address the problem by allowing for more than one curator per district in the case of HB 174 and HB 244, and making one of the members a voting student in the case of HB 243.

HJR 9 places on the ballot an $800 million bonding plan to support higher education and other state facilities. The resolution is identical to one introduced last year.

Two bills provide for additional scholarships for students in the state’s A+ program. HB 231 would authorize a $500 scholarship for students who pass advance placement math and science courses and who are also eligible to receive the A+ or Access Missouri awards. HB 232 would provide for a needs-based A+ award for students regardless of whether their high school is designated as an A+ school. Currently, only students who graduate from a designated school are eligible to receive the tuition scholarship to attend public community colleges in the state.

HB 223 authorizes an appropriation of funds through the Caring for Missourians program for additional nursing support. It allows funding provided by nursing organizations in the state to be allocated to the state’s nursing schools to help alleviate the current nursing shortage.

To connect to bill status pages for the House, go here, and for the Senate, go here.

Senate working groups provide recommendations for rebooting government

A series of Senate working groups tasked with taking public recommendations for streamlining government and increasing efficiencies completed their work and presented suggestions to Senate President Pro-Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) this week.  Recommendations related to higher education included combining the State Board of Education with the State Coordinating Board for Higher Education, a proposal that was debated last year in the Senate.  The Education work group also supported efforts already under way in higher education to review academic programs and look for opportunities to consolidate and streamline. This process was started last fall as part of a set of initiatives outlined by Governor Jay Nixon.

To see the complete list of recommendations from all of the work groups, go to the website here.

Federal Relations Update

The United States House of Representatives has announced official committee assignments. Assignments for the Missouri delegation include:
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-1): Financial Services; Oversight & Government Reform
Rep. Todd Akin (R-2): Armed Services; Budget
Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-3): Foreign Affairs; Transportation & Infrastructure
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-4): Agriculture; Armed Services
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-5): Financial Services
Rep. Sam Graves (R-6): Small Business (Chair); Transportation & Infrastructure
Rep. Billy Long (R-7): Homeland Security; Transportation & Infrastructure
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-8): Appropriations
Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-9): Financial Services

Jan. 14, 2011

Senate committees announced

Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) announced committee chairs and members of Senate committees this week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will be chaired by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia). This will be the first time since the early 1990s that a Columbia Senator will chair the powerful budget-writing panel. Other members of the committee include Vice Chair Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), and Senators Dan Brown (R-Rolla), Will Kraus (R-Lee’s Summit), Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph), Tim Green, (D-Spanish Lake), and Jolie Justus, (D-Kansas City).  Six of the nine members have degrees from a University of Missouri System campus.

The Senate Education Committee will again be chaired by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg); and Senator Brian Nieves, (R-Washington) will serve as vice chair. Other Senators on the panel include Dan Brown (R-Rolla) Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield), Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City), and Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis).

To see the full list of Senate committee appointments, see the Missouri Senate’s Press Release which lists each of the assignments.

Higher education leaders meet with Governor as FY2012 budget address nears

Governor Jay Nixon met with public higher education leaders on Wednesday, January 12 to discuss the current budget situation and reflect on his plans for the FY2012 budget.  A statement released by Interim President Owens following Wednesday’s meeting can be viewed here

The Governor’s State of the State address will take place next week in the House chamber before a joint session of the Missouri House of Representatives and Missouri Senate. It will be broadcast beginning at 7:00 p.m. on many local television stations across the state and also will be streamed live through the state’s Web portal at www.MO.gov

Access Missouri scholarship recipients to get a slight increase

Students at Missouri public and private higher education institutions receiving Access Missouri need-based scholarships will see slight increases in award levels for the current semester as a result of a lower-than-expected demand for the scholarships this year.  Scholarship levels will increase as follows:

  • Community college students: Maximum award increase from $275 to $470.
  • Public four-year college students: Maximum award increase from $950 to $1,010
  • Private college students: Maximum award increase from $1,900 to $2,160

These levels will be in place only for the remaining academic year. Award levels for students in the fall 2011 class will not be determined until summer. Last year, lawmakers passed legislation that will eventually equalize award levels for students at public and private four-year institutions, but phase-in will not begin until 2014.

For more information on this week’s announcement regarding the scholarships, click here.

Bill filed to address curator appointment issue

Missouri’s state Constitution establishes the nine-member University of Missouri Board of Curators, and current state statutes stipulate that no more than one Curator may be appointed from each Congressional district.  As Missouri prepares to drop from nine to eight Congressional districts as a result of the 2010 Census, legislation has been introduced to allow more than one Curator appointment per Congressional District. 

HB174, introduced by House Higher Education Committee chairman Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) would specify “at least one but no more than two” curators from each district, allowing the constitutionally mandated nine appointments to be made.  The bill, which is identical to legislation debated during the 2009 Legislative Session, is expected to be referred to committee in the coming days.

Legislators visit MU for tour, game

Although there was no official “freshman legislator tour” due to budget cuts this winter, the University invited House members to tour various areas of the Mizzou campus and attend the Mizzou-Nebraska basketball game on January 12th. Nearly 50 legislators came to Columbia for the events, which included a tour of Discovery Ridge, the MU Research Park, the Bond Life Sciences Center, and dinner in the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex.  The University emphasized the link between higher education, research, economic development, and job creation during the tour.

ViatorLab

From left: Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia), Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton), Rep. Kevin Elmer (R-Nixa) and Rep. Sylvester Taylor (D-Black Jack) look on as Dr. John Viator, Associate Professor of Biological Engineering, demonstrates the use of lasers in cancer detection during the MU Legislative Tour on January 12th.

MU Extension provides workshop at capitol for legislators, staffers

MU Extension representatives came to Jefferson City January 13 to provide legislators and staffers with a glimpse of database and mapping capabilities provided by the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis and the Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems.  Legislators had an opportunity to explore their districts with demographic data and to generate maps showing education levels, income, and many other factors.  Later this year, much of the Census 2010 data will be available for legislators to get a better sense of how population shifts are impacting their districts.

Klippenstein Computer

State Representative Glen Klippenstein (R-Maysville) (center) watches a demonstration of socioeconomic data mapping of his legislative district during an MU Extension workshop at the capitol on January 13th.

Jan. 7, 2011

UM President Gary Forsee resigns, Steve Owens named Interim President

UM President Gary Forsee resigned this morning when the Board of Curators met in closed session.  The Board of Curators appointed UM General Counsel Steve Owens as Interim President.

The UM Press Release regarding the announcement can be found here.

 Senate begins work with focus on jobs, state budget

As the 96th General Assembly got underway January 5th, the Senate swore in 17 members, including 12 new Senators. They then elected Senator Rob Mayer, (R-Dexter) as the President Pro Tem.  Senator Mayer, who has an undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a law degree from UMKC, pledged to focus on the budget and encourage job development.

Mayer’s opening address highlights some of his legislative priorities for the year.

The Senator emphasized the importance of education and noted that he will continue  committees established last year to reboot state government in an effort to consider ideas and suggestions from the public on how the state could save money.

Senator Mayer’s leadership team includes Senator Tom Dempsey (R-St. Peters), who will serve as Majority Floor Leader and Senator Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon) who will serve as Assistant Majority Floor Leader.  Senator Victor Callahan (D-Independence) will continue as Minority Floor Leader.  The Senate reconvenes at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, January 10, 2011.

House elects Speaker, swears in new members

On Wednesday, in the House of Representatives, all 163 members were sworn in, including 78 new members. The body elected Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) as Speaker. Tilley has an undergraduate degree from Southeast Missouri State University and a Doctor of Optometry degree from UMSL. Tilley reviewed his priorities that include economic development, education, and several changes in House rules including fewer committees and granting subpoena power to the budget committee. He also pledged to complete 75 percent of the priority agenda in the first 50 legislative days of the session.

In addition to Speaker Tilley, the House leadership team includes Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) and Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka). Mike  Talboy (D-Kansas City) serves as Minority Leader.

Speaker Tilley’s opening day remarks can be found here.

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Speaker Steven Tilley (center) discusses the House Republican caucus’ plans for the legislative session with Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller (right) and Majority Floor Leader Tim Jones (left).
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Minority Leader Mike Talboy discusses the Democratic caucus’ priorities for the legislative session.

House announces committee members in opening day

Members of key committees on budget and higher education were announced Wednesday. For a description and list of the House Budget Committee members, click here.

The list of members of the House Appropriations-Education Committee , which handles initial review of the spending plans for elementary, secondary and higher education, can be found here.

The list of members of the House Higher Education Committee , which reviews policy legislation related to the state’s colleges and universities, can be found here.

To see a full list of the House committees, visit the Missouri House Committee Assignments page.

The Senate is expected to announce committee chairs and assignments in the coming days. In the meantime, updated rules about Senate committees and responsibilities were approved Wednesday.

Senate to host “Rebooting Government” sessions

Next week, the Senate will continue the work of committees established to consider ways to reboot state government, including one focused on education. For last year’s recommendations, visit the “Rebooting State Government” page.

Governor and Budget Leaders Agree on Consensus Revenue Estimate

Governor Jay Nixon met with the Senate and House Appropriations Chairs in December to agree on the state’s consensus revenue estimate, which will be the starting point on which the FY 2012 budget will be based. Representative Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Chair of the House Budget committee and President Pro Tem Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), then Chair of the Senate Appropriations committee, joined the Governor in announcing that the projected net general revenue collections in FY12 are expected to be $7.295 billion. The figure represents moderate revenue growth over the FY11 revenue estimates. However, even with the receipt of this amount, revenue collections will still be $700 million below FY 2008 collections, necessitating further budget reductions for FY12.  

In regards to the current fiscal year, the state Office of Administration announced that in the first six months of FY11, revenue collections have increased approximately 4.6 percent over the past year. From July through December, individual income tax collections rose 3.3 percent and corporate income and franchise tax rose 11 percent.  

Federal Relations Update

The 112th United States Congress convened for the first time on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011. John Boehner (R-Ohio) was elected Speaker of the House, and has begun to assign members to committees. As of Friday, January 7th, the following committee assignments have been given to the Missouri delegation:

Vicky Hartzler: Agriculture, Armed Services
Todd Akin: Armed Services
Blaine Luetkemeyer: Financial Services
Billy Long: Foreign Affairs, Transportation & Infrastructure
Sam Graves: Small Business (Chairman)

In the U.S. Senate, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) was selected to be part of a three person team that will serve as the Minority Whips in the Senate. Blunt replaced retiring Missouri Senator Christopher S. “Kit” Bond.