February 24, 2012

House Budget Committee hears subcommittee recommendations

The House Budget committee met on Feb. 21 and 22 to hear recommendations from the Appropriations subcommittees, including Appropriations – Education, that incorporates the higher education appropriations. Each Chairperson presented his or her committee’s recommendations for the bills they were assigned.

For higher education, the committee recommended combining a number of smaller scholarship programs, some of which have not been fully utilized in the last few years, into one account. The integrity of each scholarship program would remain, but if funds are not used by one program, then this pool will allow funds to be used by another program. The committee also sent a letter to the Budget Chair requesting that a certain amount of lottery funds be used for specific priorities identified by the committee. Included in this recommendation was $316,718 for MORENet.

The Budget committee did not take action on any of the bills.

MOSIRA legislation ruled unconstitutional; Attorney General plans appeal

The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA), which was passed by the General Assembly during the 2012 special session, was ruled unconstitutional on Feb. 20.  The bill established a program to help fund new businesses in the biosciences.  The Judge’s ruling stated that language included in the final version of the bill making the enactment of MOSIRA contingent upon the passage of another piece of legislation is unconstitutional.  

Attorney General Chris Koster has stated he will appeal the ruling and legislators are currently considering a bill that could become the vehicle to pass the language again.  SB 733, sponsored by Sen. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) was introduced to remove the contingency clause from current law.

The University of Missouri System has been a strong supporter of MOSIRA, which has the potential to provide significant new funding to attract and expand businesses that bring research concepts to the marketplace and create jobs.

New Senate district maps approved by committee as lawmakers debate changing filing period

It is still not clear where boundaries for Missouri’s 34 state Senate districts will be as the filing period for the fall elections opens next week. The Missouri Supreme Court rejected an earlier version of the map in January and a new commission was appointed to gather additional public input and draw a new set of districts. One of the commission hearings was hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City on February 20.

The new version of the map has been submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. After a 15-day public comment period, the plan must receive final approval by the commission.

Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) introduced SB 773 last week, which proposes to delay the beginning of the filing period set to begin on February 28. The House amended the bill to shorten the filing period, rather than delay it.  The Senate took up the bill with the House changes on February 23, however, several Senators raised objections to the new version of the Senate district map and urged that passage of SB 773 be delayed.  The Senate adjourned for the week without taking action on the bill.

To link to an interactive map showing the latest version of the Senate districts, click here.

Above: The Senate Apportionment Commission committee meeting on the UMKC campus.

Curators set in-state tuition rates at 3 percent for 2012-2013 school year

The University of Missouri Board of Curators met on February 20 to adopt plans for a three percent increase in tuition for in-state undergraduates at the System’s four campuses. For the news release on the Board of Curators decision, click here.

MU football team honored by House and Senate

Nearly 30 members of the 2011 Mizzou football team came to Jefferson City on Tuesday, Feb. 21, to meet with legislators and fans. The players joined head coach Gary Pinkel and Athletic Director Mike Alden for a session to sign posters and footballs for Senators and Representatives in the House Lounge. The players were then recognized with resolutions before the Missouri Senate and Missouri House of Representatives. Following the official congratulations in the chambers, the players returned to the House Lounge where they met with staff and fans. A highlight for fans and photographers was the 2011 Independence Bowl trophy, which was displayed in the Lounge with Mizzou banners. The Tigers won the trophy after defeating North Carolina in the bowl game in December.

The day also marked the first visit to the capitol for new UM System President Timothy Wolfe, who began his official duties February 15. Wolfe visited with the football team and had an opportunity to meet many Senators and Representatives through the course of the day.

Above: Coach Pinkel (top right) and members of the MU football team with UM President Tim Wolfe (front left) and Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) (front right). Photo is courtesy of Bill Greenblatt. For more photos of their visit, click here.

Senator Roy Blunt visits the transportation center at Missouri S&T

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) toured the High-Bay Structures Laboratory at Missouri University of Science & Technology on February 21. Blunt’s visit included a tour of the lab and presentations on their nationally recognized Center for Transportation Infrastrucure and Safety. Missouri S&T’s Center is one of ten institutions that are a part of the National University Transportation Centers.

Above: Dr. Kamal Khayat (left), Director of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies and National University Transportation Center, Senator Roy Blunt (center), and Genda Chen (right), Professor of Civil Engineering.

UMSL hosts legislative reception

On February 19, the University of Missouri-St. Louis hosted a legislative reception. Elected officials toured the chemistry labs at Benton-Stadler Hall. Elected officials also met with Chancellor’s Council and UMSL administrators.

Above: Representative Karla May (D-St. Louis) (left), Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and Judge Debra Carnahan.

February 17, 2012

House panel considers capital funding match bill

The House Higher Education Committee conducted a hearing on a bill to establish a matching fund for capital improvements for higher education on February 14. HB 1502, sponsored by Representative Caleb Jones (R-California) would provide a venue through which institutions could seek a 50-50 state match on private donations for capital improvements.  Testifying in support of the legislation were MU Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton, Wally Pfeffer of the Mizzou Legislative Network, representatives of the Mizzou Flagship Council, Associated Students of the University of Missouri, Missouri Students Association, and several other public institutions across the state.

A similar bill in the Senate, SB 655 sponsored by Senator Tim Green (D-St. Louis) was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on February 16 and is on the calendar to be considered by the full Senate.

 MU Deputy Chancellor Mike Middleton (left) testifying in support HB 1502 with sponsor Rep. Caleb Jones (right).

MU women’s club soccer team recognized at the capitol

Members of the Mizzou women’s club soccer team came to Jefferson City Feb. 14 to be recognized before the Missouri Senate. The team took first place at the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Women’s Soccer Championships in 2011 and completed the season with a 5-0-1 record. After recognition and presentation of a resolution before the Senate by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), the team was given a tour of the capitol building.

The MU women’s club soccer team at the dais of the Missouri Senate after being welcomed by Senator Kurt Schaefer.

February 10, 2012

Governor announces $40 million to higher education institutions

On February 7, Governor Jay Nixon announced that he would submit an amended budget proposal for higher education that will include $40 million more than his original FY 13 budget proposal.  The additional funds are the result of a nationwide legal settlement with banks involved in the recent mortgage crisis. Missouri is expected to receive more than $140 million in settlement money, some of which will be redistributed to homeowners, with other portions available for other state needs. The additional $40 million would reduce the proposed FY13 cut to an approximately 8 percent reduction, rather than the originally proposed 12.5 percent. To see the announcement regarding the additional funds, click here.

Senate committee passes bill creating a higher education capital fund

The Senate Appropriations committee heard and passed SB 655, sponsored by Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis). The bill would create a Fund for the receipt of state matching funds for public colleges or universities for capital projects.  To receive the funds, a higher education institution must raise 50 percent of the cost from private donations or grants, the state may then appropriate the remaining 50 percent as matching funds.  The committee agreed on an amendment to the bill to prohibit any funds from being used for athletic facilities or other revenue-generating facilities.

Among those testifying in favor of the legislation were Tom George, Chancellor of the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Wally Pfeffer, Chair of the Mizzou Legislative Network, Tom Rackers representing the Mizzou Flagship Council, and Patricia Poe, a sophomore at MU representing the Associated Students of the University of Missouri. 

Senator Tim Green (left) with UMSL Chancellor Tom George (right), testifying in support of SB 655 in the Senate Appropriations committee.

Senate gives first round approval to higher education bill

Legislation to improve remedial education and improve transfer of courses between institutions moved forward in the Missouri Senate on February 8. SB 455, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) was perfected on a voice vote and faces a final vote before moving over to the House. A similar bill, HB 1042, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) has also passed the House Higher Education Committee and is awaiting consideration on the floor. The bills encourage following best practices for improving remedial education at the post-secondary level and seek to improve the process of transferring credits from two- to four-year higher education institutions.  The bills also reference reverse transfer of credits for students who seek to complete an associate’s degree after transferring to a four-year institution.

February 3, 2012

Interim President Owens testifies in House

On February 1, Interim President Steve Owens testified before the House Appropriations – Education committee on the 2013 budget. As the committee prepares to draft their higher education budget recommendations for FY 2013, chairman Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe) invited Presidents and representatives from all of the state’s two-year and four-year public institutions to testify.  Comments centered on the impact of the proposed budget reduction of 12.5 percent and the effect it could have on the institutions and on tuition for the upcoming academic year. 

Interim President Owens took the opportunity to review the University’s unique mission and wide variety of contributions to the state.  He also discussed a variety of potential impacts should large budget cuts be imposed next fiscal year.  Finally, Owens briefed the committee on the University of Missouri’s proposed tuition increases for the 2012 – 2013 academic year.  To read his comments in their entirety, click here. Interim President Owens’ supporting slides can be found here

Above: Interim President Steve Owens (left) testifies with Nikki Krawitz (right), Vice President of Finance and Administration.

UM considering an average tuition increase of 6.5% for 2012-2013 academic year

The University of Missouri has proposed tuition increases for the four UM campuses for the 2012-2013 academic year. The proposed increases are as follows:

  • Missouri S&T: 9%
  • UMSL: 8.2%
  • MU: 7.5%
  • UMKC: 3%

The tuition increases would generate approximately $28 million in additional revenue for UM. The current proposed budget cuts of 12.5% equate to a reduction of $50 million. If the Board of Curators approve a tuition increase above the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 3%, UM will have to seek a tuition waiver from the Commissioner of the Department of Higher Education. The Board of Curators will approve tuition rates for the UM campuses at a special meeting in February.

Student representative to Board of Curators confirmed by Senate, Van Matre considered by Senate

Amy Johnson, a UMKC student, was confirmed on February 2 by the Missouri Senate to serve as a student representative on the Board of Curators. Johnson will serve a two-year term and will replace Laura Confer of Missouri S&T as the student representative. Johnson was sworn in and is beginning to serve her term. For the full press release on Amy Johnson’s appointment, click here.

The Senate considered approval for nominee Craig Van Matre to serve on the Board of Curators on February 2. Several senators raised concerns with Van Matre’s appointment, and after a discussion on the Senate floor, Van Matre’s motion for approval was withdrawn from consideration. To see Governor Nixon’s statement on Van Matre’s service to the Board of Curators, click here.

House higher education committee passes bill related to remedial education, transfer

The House Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) conducted its first hearing of the session on January 24, to consider HB 1042. The bill would encourage improved remedial education practices and transfer and articulation agreements between two- and four-year institutions. A committee substitute for HB 1042 was passed by the full committee on January 31.  The bill, sponsored by Thomson, is similar to SB 455 sponsored by Senator David Pearce, (R-Warrensburg). That bill has been passed by the Senate Education Committee and is on the Senate calendar for consideration on the floor.

The University of Missouri System is already working closely with the two-year sector to improve course transfer and is an active participant in the Department of Higher Education’s  Committee on Transfer and Articulation (COTA), which is charged in this legislation with developing a course transfer library.  The remedial education section of these bills is primarily aimed at the two-year sector.

Lawmakers hear bills that would expand and improve charter schools in Missouri

Bills to enact many changes in the state’s charter school operation were heard January 25 before both the Senate Education Committee and the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee.  SB 576, sponsored by Senator Bill Stouffer (R-Napton); and HB 1228, sponsored by Rep. Tishaura Jones, (D-St. Louis) are identical bills that expand charter schools statewide instead of limiting them to St. Louis and Kansas City. The bills also improve clarity and accountability for sponsoring organizations, particularly related to shutting down failing charter schools.

The University of Missouri System sponsors charter schools in both St. Louis and Kansas City and has been involved in development of accountability measures that are reflected in the legislation.  Dr. Deborah Carr, an assistant professor of education at MU who coordinates several of the charter schools sponsored by MU, testified in support of the bill before both committees.

Chris Kelly, Gary Forsee awarded the MU Geyer Award

On January 23, former UM President Gary Forsee and Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) were recipients of the 2011 Geyer Award. The ceremony was held at the Governor’s mansion and more than 40 state legislators attended to congratulate Forsee and Kelly.

Each year the Mizzou Legislative Network, part of the Mizzou Alumni Association, awards the Henry S. Geyer Award, named for the former state Representative St. Louis, who was the author of the Geyer Act of 1839 from which established the University. The award recognizes the work of public officials and citizens who have made a positive impact on higher education and Mizzou.

From left to right: former UM President Gary Forsee, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, and Rep. Chris Kelly.

UMSL sponsors RCGA reception

From left to right: Rep. Clem Smith, (D-St. Louis), UMSL Chancellor Tom George, UM System President-designate Tim Wolfe, and Rep. Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles). They were among the officials who attended an UMSL-sponsored reception at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel prior to the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association’s 175th Annual Meeting and Dinner. The reception attracted almost 100 UMSL alumni and supporters.