Governor delivers State of the State Address
On January 21, Governor Jay Nixon delivered his State of the State address and revealed his budget proposal for fiscal year 2015 before a joint session of the General Assembly. Among his major recommendations were increases in funding for elementary and secondary and higher education. The Governor noted continued positive indicators in the economy and proposed $278 million in new funding for the K-12 Foundation Formula, increased operating and scholarship funding for higher education, and called for support to bond the costs of a new mental hospital in Fulton. He noted the increased job security that comes with higher education and applauded public four-year institutions for keeping tuition increases the lowest in the nation over the past six years. He called on institutions to freeze tuition for the next academic year.
A number of positive recommendations were proposed for higher education in the state. The Governor recommended $407.5 million for the University of Missouri System’s core operating budget. He recommended a total of $42 million in new performance funding for 2- and 4-year public institutions – of that amount, UM could receive up to $21.3 million. A total of $19.7 million was proposed for a Caring for Missourians – Mental Health initiative, which would help increase the number of mental health professionals and help alleviate crucial shortages in the state. Should the full amount be approved by the legislature, UM could receive $12.2 million of the total for distribution. The Governor also recommended $22 million for a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiative at the state’s public institutions. The University could receive $12.2 million of that funding.
Also included in the Governor’s proposal for UM was the recurring $2 million for the UMKC and Missouri State University joint pharmacy program and a recurring $10 million for the cooperative medicine program between MU and Cox Health and Mercy health systems in Springfield.
As for University of Missouri – Related programs, most received a level funding recommendation, including Telehealth, the Missouri Kidney Program, Missouri Rehabilitation Center, MOFAST, and the Spinal Cord Injury fund. A $483,250 increase was recommended for the State Historical Society.
The Governor also recommended an increase for the state’s three major scholarship programs. The Academic Scholarship Program, otherwise known as Bright Flight, received a $17 million recommended increase. The additional funds would allow for the enactment of a loan forgiveness incentive for students who are eligible for the scholarship. The Access Missouri program received an $8.5 million recommended increase and the A+ scholarship program received a $2.7 million increase. Fiscal year 2015 budget bills should be introduced within the next week.
To review the Governor’s higher education budget recommendations, go to: http://content.oa.mo.gov/sites/default/files/Higher%20Education.pdf 
Chancellor Schrader visits with legislators
Chancellor Schrader (right) visits with Rep. Keith Frederick (left) at the Capitol.
On January 21, Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader headed to Jefferson City for visits with legislators. As part of the University of Missouri System’s legislative advocacy plan, the Chancellors from all four campuses are making visits at the Capitol. Discussion points include the University’s operating budget and capital requests and the 50/50 capital match requests.
During her time at the Capitol, Chancellor Schrader visited with Missouri S&T alumni Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Tuscumbia) and Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar). She also had the opportunity to be introduced on the Senate floor by Missouri S&T’s local Senator, Dan Brown (R-Rolla) and to visit with the campus’s local Rep. Keith Frederick (R-Rolla). Other visits were with Rep. Tom Hurst (R-Meta) and Rep. Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton).
House, Senate consider funding allocation legislation
Next week the Senate could debate legislation that outlines the process for a higher education funding formula. The Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE) agreed to the funding model last summer. A similar proposal introduced in the House is scheduled for a hearing before the House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, January 28.
Senate Bill 492  was introduced by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), who is the chair of the Senate Education Committee. The bill was passed out of committee on January 22 and may see floor time in the Senate next week. The bill outlines the process for using the COPHE allocation model for core funding requests by the Department of Higher Education, and also designates that new money above the institution’s core should be allocated based on performance. The Council developed the allocation model last year to reflect varying costs of providing education and conducting research at each public four-year institution.
House Bill 1390  is sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), who is the chair of the House Higher Education Committee. The bill is similar in nature to SB 492, but also includes the two-year sector in the performance model. It will be heard on January 28.
House Bill would provide $5,000 boost for Bright Flight students
Bright Flight students could see a $5,000 forgivable loan added to their annual scholarship awards under legislation scheduled to be heard next week in the House Higher Education committee. The same proposal was incorporated into the Governor’s budget recommendations announced this week.
House Bill 1308 , sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), would provide statutory authorization to allow distribution of the Bright Flight boost in addition to a student’s underlying award. The “boost” would be renewable for up to five years. Students must sign an agreement to gain employment in the state after completing their education or pay back the additional boost amount on a year-to-year basis.
Bright Flight Scholarships are for students who score in the top three percent on standardized SAT or ACT tests, with statutory authorization of up to $3,000 per year. Students in the fourth and fifth percentile could receive up to $1,000 per year, although that secondary award has never been funded by the state. The University of Missouri System enrolls more Bright Flight students than any other institution. Governor Nixon’s budget recommendations include an additional $17 million in funding for this program next year.
Agriculture committees discuss ag scholarship bill
Cody Jones (left), student council president for MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, testifies in support of a new ag scholarship bill sponsored by Rep. Casey Guernsey (right) before House agriculture committee on January 21.
The House Agriculture Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho), and House Agri-Business Committee, chaired by Rep Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany), held a joint hearing January 21 to consider a proposal to establish a new scholarship for agriculture students in Missouri. House Bill 1326 , sponsored by Rep. Guernsey, would establish a new dairy producer margin insurance protection program for Missouri dairy farmers that would be tied to policy discussions under way on the Federal Farm Bill.
The bill would allocate the proceeds of the new program to a scholarship for undergraduate students who work in agriculture-related internships each summer and major in agriculture programs. The scholarship would be in the form of a forgivable loan, as long as the students remain in the state up to four years after graduation.
Aimed at encouraging more students to stay in the state and work in the agriculture fields, the bill may also provide support for the large animal loan forgiveness program in the College of Veterinary Medicine at MU. Several University of Missouri students and faculty testified in support of the bill during the hearing.
Legislative Day is February 18
University of Missouri alumni, students and supporters are encouraged to make plans to participate in the annual University of Missouri Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension Legislative Day on February 18 at the State Capitol in Jefferson City. Events include a morning rally, displays in the third floor rotunda, a legislative panel on higher education, and individual visits with lawmakers.
Representative Rick Stream (center) speaks with Associated Students of the University of Missouri interns Max Magruder (left) and Joel Longanecker (right).
Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) is beginning his eighth legislative session as a representative for the Kirkwood and Des Peres area. Stream has years of knowledge and experience with the state budget and currently chairs the House Budget Committee where he guides development of the state budget, including allocation to higher education.
“Higher education will play a very important role in the future of Missouri. It will produce thousands of highly educated citizens in a wide variety of fields that will help America remain the beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world,” Stream said.
Stream understands the impact higher education has on the well-being of Missouri’s residents. Stream attended St. Louis Community College-Meramec for two years before receiving a degree in Business Administration from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. While attending UMSL, Stream’s favorite class was Astronomy. The opportunities UMSL provided helped him succeed in a Celestial Navigation course in Naval Officer School. By gaining an interest in astronomy and through UMSL’s nurturing of that passion, Stream became a navigator of a Navy ship and continues to support the armed forces.
“UM should prepare students to be assets to American society by teaching them to work hard in a rigorous academic environment,” Stream said. “UM provides a solid economic boost for the state in a wide range of areas.”
Stream’s committee will begin work on the FY2015 budget in the next two weeks.
State of the Union to be delivered on January 28
President Obama is scheduled to deliver his sixth State of the Union address on January 28 at 8:00P.M. The President is expected to discuss domestic program initiatives such as income inequality, college affordability, workplace leave, unemployment benefits, and a minimum-wage increase. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will deliver the Republican response following the State of the Union.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler makes good on friendly wager
Prior to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, which pitted the Missouri Tigers against the Auburn Tigers, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) and Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL) made a friendly wager. Since Auburn defeated Mizzou, Congresswoman Hartzler made good on the wager and presented Congressman Rogers with a Shakespeare’s pizza and Tiger Stripe Ice Cream. Tiger Stripe is the signature flavor of Buck’s Ice Cream Place, which is located on the MU campus, and it is the official ice cream of the Missouri Tigers. Buck’s ice cream is produced by food science students in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
President Obama announces task force to address university sexual assault
On January 22, the White House released a report  highlighting the importance of working to reduce instances of rape and sexual assault on college campuses. In addition, President Obama announced a Presidential Memoranda  establishing a “White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.” The task force’s mission is to work with agencies to develop a coordinated Federal response to campus rape and sexual assault. The task force must develop a recommendation within 90 days. Colleges and universities are currently required to comply with various federal laws, such as the Clery Act, which requires the retention and disclosure of information about crime on or near campuses, and the Violence Against Women Act, which requires the disclosure of reports of domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.