April 12, 2013

Senate Committee reviews budget

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), reviewed the FY 2014 budget bills including HB3, the higher education funding bill.  While the actual committee substitutes are not yet drafted, the committee came to a number of agreements on its version of the bills. The first walk through was completed this week and the committee is expected to make its remaining decisions and release drafts of the bills early next week.

Senate Education Committee adopts funding formula for higher education

The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday took up and passed SB 437 sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), which would codify a new funding formula model for higher education.  The proposal emerged from a report developed by the Joint Committee on Education over the past several months.

Committee members adopted an amendment by Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) to remove consideration of local funding matches for community colleges, resulting in an increase in available funds for the community college sector.  Other amendments offered by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis) to adjust the formula’s weightings for four-year institutions and for professional schools were defeated.  An amendment to require that performance funding in the model only apply to new funding instead of being 10 percent of the core was also defeated.  The bill will now be in position to move to the Senate floor for consideration.

University of Missouri System students meet with lawmakers to promote budget, bonding

About 100 students representing all four campuses of the UM System came to Jefferson City on Thursday, April 11, to meet with lawmakers to encourage support for University priorities. The students held a rally in the Rotunda in the morning where they heard from several lawmakers and received instructions for morning visits from leaders with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri.  The students then went throughout the building to meet with key lawmakers to encourage support for the operating budget, a bonding plan for higher education, and other priorities.  Many of the students were introduced before the Senate and House as the day’s business began.

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Some of the UM students participating in April 11’s student lobby day in Jefferson City meet with Rep. Courtney Curtis (D-Berkeley) during visits in the Capitol.

House, Senate panels consider Extension districting proposals

Legislation to allow MU Extension to form Extension districts made progress in both chambers this week. Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), was heard before the House Agri-Business Committee on April 9.  Testimony was provided by Michael Ouart, Vice Provost for Extension; and Tony DeLong, County Council Coordinator for Extension. Missouri Farm Bureau, Mizzou Flagship Council, and the Mizzou Legislative Network of the Mizzou Alumni Association also went on record in support.  The committee did not take any action on the bill but is expected to consider it in executive session next week.

Meanwhile, a Senate Committee Substitute for HB202, sponsored by Rep. Bill Rieboldt (R-Neosho), was passed by the Senate Education Committee on April 10, by a 7-0 vote. The bill will now make its way to the Senate Calendar for consideration on the floor. The new substitute makes the bill identical to the Senate bill referenced above which has already passed the Senate.  The only change was the inclusion of language that exempts St. Louis County from participating in the districting option.

President Obama releases FY2014 budget

On April 10, President Barack Obama released his FY2014 budget. The President’s budget is regarded as a starting point for the federal appropriations process, and will not be adopted as proposed. The $3.77 trillion budget assumes that the cuts mandated by sequestration will be repealed and proposes tax and entitlement reform, reaching $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years.

A few of the provisions that directly affect the higher education community include:

  • Increasing non-defense research and development funds by 9 percent over FY2012 levels.
  • Making the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) permanent.
  • Reorganizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs across agencies to improve effectiveness of federal investments.

Student financial aid highlights include:

  • Increasing the Pell Grant maximum award to $5,785, a $140 increase.
  • Providing a $150 million increase in federal work study funds above FY12 levels, doubling the number of work study jobs over 5 years.
  • Setting new student loan interest rates annually and based on the 10-year Treasury bill plus a specified mark-up based on the type of student loan. These final interest rates would be at a fixed-rate.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will now begin their appropriations process, beginning with hearings and mark-ups of the appropriations bills. The federal FY2014 fiscal year begins on October 1.

Secretary of State visits UMSL’s Veterans Center

Secretary of State Jason Kander came to the University of Missouri – St. Louis on April 10 to visit the campus veterans center in Clark Hall. Kander discussed his military service and experiences as well as how these aspects of his life have translated to public service.

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Secretary  of State Jason Kander (left) with UMSL Chancellor Tom George. 

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