Budget outlook for FY10 and FY11
Gov. Jay Nixon will give his annual State of the State address Jan. 20 to highlight his budgetary and legislative priorities for the upcoming year. While specifics on FY11 recommendations are not yet available, state Budget Director Linda Luebbering spoke to the House Budget Committee this week about the outlook for the rest of FY10 and projections for FY11.
Currently, the state is projecting $6.97 billion in collections for FY10 – equivalent to a 6.4 percent decline or loss of $480 million, which is comparable to FY05 receipts. So far, $630 million of expenditure restrictions have been made, but with a projected 6.4 percent decline, around $170 million more in restrictions will be required. These are expected to be announced in late January.
The state is estimating $7.2 billion in collections in FY11, which is a 3.6 percent increase over last year. While a good sign, these collections are well below previous years. Remaining federal stabilization money will be utilized in FY11, but the situation remains challenging.
Access legislation filed in the Senate
A bill to equalize need-based scholarship awards for students at public and private four-year institutions was filed by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) this week. SB784  would change award levels so that all four-year students would receive up to $2,850 and two year-students would receive up to $1,250. Currently, award levels are set at $4,600 for students at private institutions, $2,150 for students at public four-year institutions and $1,000 for students at public two-year institutions. Currently, more than half of the $95 million in state funds appropriated to Access Missouri goes to students attending private institutions.
The bill differs from similar bills last session in that the changes do not take effect until the 2014-2015 school year, so no current students would see award levels change while in school. A similar bill is expected to be filed in the House.
University of Missouri Curator testifies before Senate Committee
University of Missouri Curator and former Sen. Wayne Goode appears with Sen. Rita Days (D-St. Louis) on after his appearance before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments Committee Jan. 13. The committee approved his appointment and the full Senate will vote on his appointment in the near future.
Resolution introduced to bond higher education projects
A resolution with bipartisan support was introduced in the House this week that would place a plan to issue bonds for higher education and other capital improvement construction. HJR77 , sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and Rep. Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) and co-sponsored by more than a third of the House, would establish the Fifth State Building Bond to provide nearly $800 million for public construction projects.
Higher education institutions could each see a top-priority project funded by such a proposal if approved by voters. It also could provide funding needed to complete the projects originally approved under the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative that have not been funded. A similar resolution passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate.
If approved by the General Assembly, the measure would appear on the November 2010 ballot unless the governor calls an August election.
Senators complete briefing seminars
Senate President Pro-Tem Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) organized a series of briefing seminars for senators on topics ranging from education, economic development and health care to preparations for the U.S. Census. The final seminar on Jan. 14 featured a review of the state’s P-20 task force efforts by the Department of Higher Education and a report on University of Missouri P-20 efforts by Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Deborah Noble-Triplett and Dr. Dan Lowry, Co-Executive Director of MU’s Partnership for Educational Renewal.
Triplett and Lowry discussed the university’s initiative  to survey institutions about programs to help improve retention of K-12 students and identify challenges that lead to leaks in the pipeline. Senators also heard from Higher Education Commissioner Robert Stein about the state’s previous P-20 studies and efforts.
Lawmakers also heard updates on plans for the U.S. Census in Missouri. The state’s projected population of 6,022,430 people would be just enough to allow Missouri to maintain its current number of nine congressional seats.
“We retain that seat by only 5,271 people,” said Matt Hesser with the Office of Administration. “Missing just an average of 10 four-person households per county could mean the difference between retaining the nine congressional seats and losing one of them.”
Other reports in the seminars included updates by the three 2020 visioning committee chairs charged with identifying long-range policy goals involving education, health care and economic development. All three committees have conducted preliminary hearings and plan to gather additional input as they develop reports by the end of 2010.
Joint Committee on Education discusses higher education funding model
The Department of Higher Education provided a report on the status of funding formula models to the Joint Committee on Education as required by state statute on Jan. 13. The report examined the history of funding models for both community colleges and public four-year institutions.
Deputy Commissioner of Higher Education Paul Wagner reviewed the models developed by the Higher Education Funding Task Force and answered questions regarding how each formula compensates for enrollment growth and program mix.
The committee took no action on the reports.
Education committees learn about Midwest Higher Education Compact
Missouri is one of several midwestern states that participates in the Midwest Higher Education Compact  (MHEC), which provides cost savings in software and hardware purchases and property insurance coverage, as well as a student exchange program and policy research. Compact President Dr. Larry Isaak provided legislators from the Senate Education, House Higher Education, House Elementary and Secondary Education and House Appropriations-Education Committees with an update on how Missouri had participated in the past year during a hearing Jan. 13.
Missouri higher education institutions and schools saved more than $42 million since joining the compact in 1991 by using cost savings and student exchange programs. For FY09, education institutions and schools achieved savings of more than $4.3 million, compared to the state’s investment of just $95,000 per year.
House committee hears MOSIRA bill
Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty) presented HB1511  at a hearing held this week by the House Job Creation and Economic Development Committee. The bill, known as the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, creates the Missouri Science and Innovation Authority to attract and retain existing and new science and innovation companies.
Under this legislation, a percentage of income taxes from life science industry employees will be deposited into the Science and Innovation Reinvestment Fund. A newly created board will oversee the distribution of money from the fund and invest those funds in projects that further science and innovation within the state.
At the hearing, business and life science experts testified in support of the bill, stating that many other states already have these incentives as a proven job growth strategy.
Missouri Right to Life announced opposition to the bill unless it includes anti-embryonic stem cell research language. They are concerned that state money generated through the program could support embryonic stem cell research.
In mid-December, Gov. Jay Nixon held several press conferences throughout the state to publicly endorse this legislation. The committee anticipates voting on the bill next week.