June 21, 2010

Governor signs budget bills, announces additional withholdings

Gov. Nixon signed the Fiscal Year 2011 budget bills last week and made nearly $300 million in FY11 expenditure restrictions to various state programs. Additional cuts were necessary due to lower-than-expected revenue collections.

Two University of Missouri programs were affected by the cuts. After receiving an appropriation of $12.7 million in FY10, Missouri Research and Education Network (MOREnet) saw its entire FY11 appropriation of $6.8 million cut. The group’s governing board met late last week to determine its next steps.

In addition, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, which is affiliated with the MU School of Medicine, received a cut of $250,000, dropping its FY11 appropriation to $250,000. The program received $1.6 million in FY10.

The governor also announced $70 million in cuts to K-12 transportation, higher education scholarship programs and a variety of social services. Another 250 state jobs also will be eliminated. The FY11 budget goes into effect July 1.

Withholdings mean lower awards for Access Missouri, Bright Flight recipients

Facing significant budget shortfalls, Gov. Nixon announced a $50 million withholding from the state’s Access Missouri scholarship program last week. The program, which serves disadvantaged students at both public and private institutions, was set to receive $82.8 million—an appropriation that would have kept funding levels identical to the current year. However, as a result of the one-time withholding, awards for the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters will be reduced by an amount yet to be determined.

In related news, the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) recently announced plans to convert $30 million in revenue to needs-based scholarships in anticipation of the upcoming withholding, thus bringing the reduction to $20 million or about 25% of the overall award amount.

The governor also reduced funding for the state’s merit-based Bright Flight scholarship program by about 25% through a one-time withholding.

The Department of Higher Education, which administers both Access Missouri and Bright Flight scholarship programs, is waiting for further discussions with MOHELA and the governor’s office to determine how to apply the reductions and their effect on students expecting to receive awards in the fall.

UM board of curators approve revenue bonds for Ellis Fischel

The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved $30 million in revenue bonds to finance the construction of a new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center May 21. The new $52-million cancer center will be funded through the bonds and $22 million in MU Health Care operating revenue. The 100,000-square-foot facility will offer comprehensive, multidisciplinary cancer care on the first two floors of the planned patient care tower addition to University Hospital.

The new patient care tower is scheduled for completion in 2013.

Lawmakers to return June 24 for special session on Ford plant, pension reform

Gov. Nixon called for a special session beginning Thursday, June 24 to consider legislation that would provide tax incentives to keep the Ford plant in Claycomo operating. The company has indicated it plans to shift the manufacturing of several vehicles to Kentucky.

Lawmakers also will consider a proposal to revise Missouri’s pension plan for state employees, which would require new employees to contribute a portion of their salaries to the plan.

Lawmaker deliberations will be limited to these two issues.

David Russell named interim commissioner of higher education

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education announced June 10 it had selected David Russell, senior associate vice president and chief of staff for the University of Missouri System, as interim commissioner of higher education effective July 1. Russell will succeed Robert Stein, who is retiring.


For more details on the announcement, please visit: http://www.dhe.mo.gov/mdhe/pressreleaseprocess.jsp

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