May 6, 2011

General Assembly sends FY 2012 budget to the Governor

After a week of negotiations by the Appropriations conference committee, the budget for fiscal year 2012 was approved by the legislature and is on its way to the Governor.  Higher education received $12 million in additional funds to result in the overall institutional core percentage cut to 5.45 percent. The University of Missouri System will receive $403,834,997 next fiscal year.

The committee also included $2 million in HB 3 for a joint pharmacy program between UMKC and Missouri State University and $1 million for competitive grants to nursing schools.

Within the University-related items, the committee decided to reduce the budget for the Missouri Kidney Program to $1.5 million, a reduction of nearly 48 percent over its FY11 funding.  MORENet received a $50,000 appropriation in order to preserve its line in the budget. The Missouri Telehealth Network will receive a small reduction.  The University Hospital and Clinics line and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health line were zeroed and removed from HB 3. University Hospital will now receive its portion of funding from the Department of Social Services. Finally, the State Historical Society and Missouri Rehabilitation Center will receive the same amount of funding as last year.

The bills will now be delivered to the Governor for his signature. On appropriations bills, the Governor has line item veto authority.      

Governor signs Curator appointment legislation

Governor Jay Nixon signed HB 174 on May 2.  The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), clarifies the appointment process for members of the University of Missouri Board of Curators due to Missouri’s loss of a congressional district.  The state constitution defines the size of the board at nine members, and this legislation changes the state statutes to allow the governor to appoint at least one but no more than two members from each of Missouri’s eight congressional districts.  The previous statutes did not allow more than one appointment in a congressional district.

This week, the legislature also took up and passed Senator David Pearce’s (R-Warrensburg) identical version of the bill, SB 163. The statutory changes in both bills will also apply to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and the Board of Governors for Missouri State University.

Board of Curator nominee Don Cupps appears before Senate panel, Nixon withdraws other nomination

Don Cupps appeared on May 4 before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments committee regarding his nomination to serve on the University of Missouri Board of Curators. Cupps was nominated by Governor Nixon on January 26 to replace outgoing Curator John Carnahan.

Governor Jay Nixon withdrew Craig Van Matre’s nomination to the Board of Curators on May 5. Nixon previously appointed Van Matre to fill the vacancy of Curator Bo Fraser, representating the 9th Congressional district. Van Matre was nominated on January 26 by Nixon and had been waiting for a Senate confirmation hearing.

Among others, Nixon also withdrew Tom Strong’s name from consideration to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. If Nixon had not withdrawn the nominees awaiting confirmation, they would have been ineligible to be renominated by Nixon. By withdrawing the nominations before the end of the legislative session, Nixon could appoint them on an interim basis after the legislature adjourns.

House and Senate successfully override Governor Nixon’s veto of redistricting plan

The House and Senate voted May 4 to override Governor Nixon’s veto of  HB 193, the Congressional redistricting map passed by the General Assembly. Nixon vetoed the bill April 30. The House overrode Nixon’s veto by a vote of 109-44, and the Senate followed with a vote of 28-6. The redistricting map (pictured below) reflects Missouri’s loss of one Congressional seat due to the 2010 Census. 

Above: Missouri’s new Congressional lines are reflected in the above map passed by the Missouri General Assembly.

Senator McCaskill holds education forum, UMKC Chancellor Morton participates

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) convened a group of educators and parents on April 21 to discuss primary and secondary education. The discussion focused on policy reforms, challenges facing our K-12 students, and how to ensure their success. UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton (left) was invited and participated with Senator Claire McCaskill (right).

UMSL sponsors legislative breakfast with RCGA

The University of Missouri-St. Louis sponsored the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA) breakfast April 27 in Jefferson City to honor members of the Missouri General Assembly. Legislators visited with RCGA and UMSL officials about the importance of higher education to the broader success of the state.

Above: Representative Cole McNary, left, (R-Chesterfield) with UMSL Chancellor Tom George,  right, at the RCGA breakfast.

Federal Relations

The U.S. Congress returned to session this week after a two-week Passover and Easter break. On May 2, Congressional leaders were informed that the deadline for raising the debt ceiling has been pushed back until August 2 as a result of stronger than expected tax receipts.

The U.S. House and U.S. Senate have primarily been doing committee work this week, including markups of the FY2012 defense authorization. Other hearings this week included discussion on “net neutrality,” policies toward Pakistan, and the state of funding of state and local pension plans.

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