Governor-elect begins assembling transition team
Missouri’s next Governor, Republican Eric Greitens, is assembling his transition team with a first task of preparing to tackle a challenging state budget situation. The new governor will need to present his first proposed state budget in late January and navigate a fiscal hole that many estimate will exceed $200 million. In the gubernatorial contest, Greitens prevailed with 51 percent of the vote to Democrat Chris Koster’s 45 percent. Greitens ran as the outsider with plans to stop expansion of Obamacare, support right to work, and pass ethics reform. He will have the benefit of a Republican super-majority in both the state Senate and House, which makes it easier to promote common policy proposals. A Duke graduate and Rhodes scholar, Greitens highlighted his military experience as a Navy Seal. His wife, Sheena, is an assistant professor of political science at MU and will continue to teach classes as the state’s first lady.
Other statewide offices up for consideration all go to Republicans
The Trump wave propelled several other statewide Republicans to victory by double-digit margins. For Lt. Governor, Republican Senator Mike Parson earned nearly 53 percent of votes to Democrat Russ Carnahan’s 42 percent. Republican Jay Ashcroft, son of former Missouri Governor John Ashcroft, won the Secretary of State seat with nearly 58 percent of the vote to Democrat Robin Smith’s 38 percent. Ashcroft has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Missouri S&T. Republican Senator Eric Schmitt prevailed in the State Treasurer race with 56 percent to challenger Democrat Judy Baker’s 39 percent. And, former MU law professor Republican Josh Hawley beat Democrat Teresa Hensley for the Attorney General race 58 percent to 41 percent. Hawley’s wife, Erin, is an associate professor at MU’s School of Law. State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who was not up for election this cycle, will be the only remaining statewide Democrat. She is an alum of both Missouri S&T and MU.
Make up of Ninety-Ninth General Assembly
In the state Senate, the party ratio won’t change from the election outcome. Of the 34 seats, half of them (17) were up for consideration last week. Incumbent Senators all won re-election and the chamber will welcome six new freshmen (Jacob Hummel, John Rizzo, Andrew Koenig, Caleb Rowden, Denny Hoskins, and Bill Eigel). There is one vacancy due to Mike Parson’s victory that will be filled later in a special election. The party breakdown is expected to be 26 Republicans and 8 Democrats, identical to last session. The new Senate will include 8 MU alumni, 1 UMKC alum and 1 Missouri S&T alum.
The Senate caucuses made some leadership decisions last week. At this point key leadership positions include:
- Ron Richard, R-Joplin, President Pro-Tem
- Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, Majority Floor Leader
- Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, Assistant Majority Floor Leader
- Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis, Minority Floor Leader
- Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, Assistant Minority Floor Leader
In the House of Representatives, all 163 House seats were up for consideration and the chamber will welcome 39 new freshmen in January. Only one incumbent lost – Independent Keith English. Republicans will continue to have a 117-46 majority. The new House of Representatives will include 29 MU alumni, 12 UMKC alumni, 6 UMSL alumni and 1 Missouri S&T alum.
The parties in the House have elected leadership positions, inducing;
- Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, Speaker
- Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, Speaker Pro-Tem
- Mike Cierpiot, R-Independence, Majority Floor Leader
- Gail McCann Beatty, D-Kansas City, Minority Leader
Review commission, Department of Higher Education task force nearing completion of reports
The University of Missouri Review Commission established last session by the General Assembly will have its last meeting at UMSL on December 5. The commission has held meetings on all four of the UM System campuses throughout its review process. It is expected to complete and deliver its report to the Speaker of the House and President Pro-Tem of the Senate by the end of the year. We will provide additional details on the report in December.
Meanwhile, the Department of Higher Education’s Mission and Degree Approval Review Task Force has also been meeting this fall and is finishing a report. It is expected to include recommendations on degree approval processes and clarification of the mission and scope of public institutions across the state. The report is expected to be finalized in December and approved by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) on December 15. We will provide details in a future update.
View from Washington
Following President-elect Donald Trump’s victory last week in the national election, all of D.C. is tuning into the transition. President-elect Trump has indicated that in his first 100 days he will issue new executive orders to overturn orders issued by President Obama, including those addressing immigration and clean air initiatives. He will also seek to overturn or scale back federal regulations, which for higher education could include recently released borrower defense rules (see below), gainful employment rules and Title IX guidance. These regulations, however, will likely need to be overturned through legislation.
Regarding a legislative agenda, President-elect Trump and the House and Senate Republican leadership have already indicated that they will quickly act to overturn portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), likely through a budget reconciliation process. Republican leaders have also indicated that they may try to tackle larger tax reform and seek funding for an infrastructure and energy package.
President-elect Trump is expected to begin naming Cabinet-level nominees soon. The national higher education associations, including AAU, APLU and the Science Coalition, are urging President-elect Trump to name a White House science advisor early in the transition process.
House and Senate leadership elections
This week, House and Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats held elections to determine leadership positions in the 115th Congress. On the House side, Republicans unanimously nominated Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for his second term as Speaker. Speaker Ryan must still be elected by a majority of votes from the House floor in January. The Republican caucus agreed to support him after calls to unite around President-elect Trump. The House Republican Conference also elected Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO/8th) as the Republican Conference Secretary, succeeding Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). On the other side of the aisle, House Democrats have postponed their elections until November 30. Incumbent minority leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will see competition from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) who recently announced he would challenge Pelosi for the role.