May 15, 2017

State Update:

Dogwood

Higher education omnibus bill stalls as session ends

The higher education degree approval legislation, modeled after the Department of Higher Education’s task force recommendations, did not come up for a final vote at the close of session. The agreement, supported by all public two-year and four-year institutions, would have clarified degree offerings across the spectrum and outlined a process for partnering on graduate and professional degree offerings.  Initially sponsored by Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington) in SB 328 and Rep. Steve Cookson (R-Poplar Bluff) in HB 758; the language was later added to other legislation in hopes of getting a vote in the final hours.

Governor reviewing budget bills as revenues remain unclear

Governor Greitens is reviewing the budget bills passed by the legislature, and has until June 19 to take action. The Governor has line-by-line authority on the budget bills and can either sign, withhold or veto any spending item.  Year-to-date revenues are currently trending around 3.1 percent. The high level of refund payouts and tax payments in April make it more challenging to assess the current status, but if final revenues do not meet estimates, it will put additional pressure on the next fiscal year.  Lawmakers crafted the FY18 spending plan based on estimated growth of 3.8 percent.

Department of Higher Education to revise performance funding model

This summer, the Department of Higher Education is setting up a task force to review the funding model used to determine additional revenues for higher education based on performance. Department officials met with the House Higher Education Committee earlier this month to highlight the process and announce formation of a task force to make revisions in the coming months. The model was developed several years ago to tie increased funds to performance goals. An audit of the department earlier this year called into question some of the documentation and data. This year, lawmakers also filed bills to change the performance funding methodology to place more emphasis on graduate employment rates, but none passed.