January 10, 2014

State News

Legislature convenes for 2014 session

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House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka), center, meets with media following the opening of the 2014 Legislative Session.

The second regular session of the 97th Missouri General Assembly commenced on January 8. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) outlined four priorities for the upcoming year: tax reform, access to education, energy policy, and protecting worker values including making Missouri a “Right To Work” state. The Speaker also noted plans for several different tax reform proposals to increase the possibility of wider support. He prioritized funding for public education at all levels and noted the need for accountability.

While the Senate President Pro Tem, Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), did not deliver a speech to his Senate colleagues, a statement was released about the Senate’s priorities for the year. Among those are clarifying the state’s elementary and secondary school transfer law and lowering the tax burden on individual Missourians. Senator Dempsey also called for tax credit reform.

Both chambers will begin holding committee hearings next week.  Major dates of the session include:

  • January 21 – Governor’s State of the State address
  • January 22 – State of the Judiciary address
  • February 27 – Last day for the Senate to introduce bills
  • March 13 – Legislative Spring Break begins upon adjournment
  • March 24 – Legislative Spring Break ends; Lawmakers reconvene at 4 p.m.
  • May 9 – Appropriations bills must be truly agreed to and finally passed
  • May 16 – Session ends at 6 p.m.

Budget process for FY2015 begins with disagreement on revenue estimate

Each December, the Governor and state budget leaders meet to agree upon a “consensus revenue estimate” (CRE).  The CRE is then used as a guide in planning the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The leaders met last month, but the meeting concluded without an agreement on a CRE for FY 2015.  Legislative leaders would like to project growth of 4.2 percent, while the Governor’s office would prefer 5.9 percent. The difference between the two estimates is approximately $140 million.

At this same meeting, the Governor and leaders may also consider an adjustment to the CRE for the current fiscal year if, halfway through the year, revenues have come in higher or lower than expected.  The group agreed to lower the FY 2014 CRE from 3.1 percent down to 2 percent. This determination was made after leaders were able to evaluate five months of actual revenue collections for the current fiscal year.

The Governor will announce his budget proposal on Jan. 21, after which the budget process will begin in the House.

Governor Nixon visits UMKC to announce support for mental health education for the state’s colleges and universities

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Governor Jay Nixon stops by UMKC Dec. 18 to announce his support for funding for the Caring for Missourians mental health initiative.

Governor Jay Nixon visited UMKC on December 18, one of a series of stops to announce plans to include $20 million in funding as part of his FY2015 budget proposal to educate more mental health care providers.  Missouri’s public higher education institutions worked together to develop a plan to increase the number of graduates  and help meet critical shortages in the state.

The funds will allow health care programs within the University of Missouri System to educate an additional 245 mental health care professionals. The federal government has designated 104 of Missouri’s 114 counties as mental health professional shortage areas, and this new proposal aims to help alleviate this problem.

Coming Soon: Profiles of Missouri state legislators

Beginning next week, the UM Legislative Update will feature a weekly profile of a member of the state Senate or House of Representatives.  Each feature will allow readers to get to know state leaders and key committee chairs better and to learn about their connections to the University of Missouri System. The profiles will also provide an opportunity to hear different perspectives on the future of higher education in the state.

Federal News

Congressman Jason Smith visits Missouri S&T, discusses research and STEM needs

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Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader (left), Congressman Jason Smith (center) and Dr. Kamal H. Khayat, Vernon and Marlee Jones Chair of Civil Engineering (right), tour the Center for Transportation Infrastructure and Safety (CTIS).

On December 16, Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) visited the Missouri S&T campus. During his visit, he toured the Center for Transportation Infrastructure and Safety and two additive manufacturing laboratories. Congressman Smith also met with Chancellor Schrader and university administrators to discuss the STEM student pipeline and growth areas at Missouri S&T.

The University of Missouri System has a presence in every part of the state

As noted time and again by UM System President Tim Wolfe during his Show-Me Value Tour throughout the state, the University of Missouri System touches every county and every corner of Missouri. Whether through local Extension offices, practicing health care providers, or alumni returning to their hometowns, the UM System is well-represented.

See how the University impacts you by visiting the following site: https://www.umsystem.edu/ums/ur/datasheets.  The University Relations office produces an annual set of data sheets that show the University of Missouri’s impact on the state, counties, congressional districts, and state House and Senate districts.  This information can be used in a number of ways to show the significance of the University and confirm its influence throughout the state.

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