April 27, 2012

Senate finishes work on the FY 2013 budget

Over the course of two days this week, the Senate debated and modified its version of the FY 13 budget proposal.  Sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chair, Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), the bills were passed early Wednesday morning and will now move to a conference committee which will negotiate any differences between House and Senate versions. 

The House and Senate took nearly identical positions and recommended funding at FY 12 levels for all public colleges and universities – which means, for most institutions, the funds will not be conference items and will be sent to the Governor as approved. All but one of the University of Missouri – Related items will be non-conference items and will be funded at their FY 12 levels.  The State Historical Society received a $200,000 increase from the Senate, so this issue will go to conference.

Only a few changes were made to HB 2003, the higher education appropriations bill, including two impacting the University of Missouri.  Previously, in committee, Senators chose to restore the $300,000 the House removed from UM’s operating budget.  On the floor, Senators elected to add language to the UM operating budget line to prohibit the distribution of funds to organizations engaging in political activity, including the Sue Shear Institute at UMSL, and to preclude the distribution of funds to support a Quality Rating System, which relates to early childhood development programs. These two changes will send the UM operating budget line to conference, but only regarding those two issues.

A few programs related to UM and the Department of Economic Development will go to conference as well.  Funding for University Extension’s Missouri Federal and State Partnership Program, or MoFAST, was relocated by the House from HB 2007, which funds the Department of Economic Development, to HB 2003. The House also increased the funding by $1 million for a total of $1,340,000.  The Senate elected to remove the $1 million increase and move the remainder of the MoFAST funds back to HB 2007. The Senate also chose to move $1,360,000 from HB 2007 to HB 2003 for Innovation Centers, which are often affiliated with higher education institutions.

Finally, the Senate elected to remove $182,124 which was added by the senate committee for the purpose of funding economic research activities at the University. This issue will not be a conference item, however, as it was only present in the Senate versions of the bill.

Conference committee meetings could begin as early as next week.  The budget must be finally passed by May 11th.

Higher Education capital bill progresses

On April 26th, the House Rules committee voted the passage of SB 655, sponsored by Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis).  The bill creates a higher education capital fund in which the state may appropriate 50 percent of the cost of a capital project when a higher education institution raises 50 percent of the cost through private means. Once the bill is reported by the Rules chairman, the next step is the House floor.  A companion bill, HB 1502 sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California), was also introduced and voted out of committee in the House.

UM students rally for funding support at State Capitol

More than 100 college students from MU, UMKC, Missouri S&T and other public institutions came to the Capitol for the “#MoreForLess” March on April 26. Organized by leaders of the Missouri Students Association and Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM), the event provided an opportunity for students to come to Jefferson City, hear from key leaders, and talk to their legislators about higher education funding.

During the rally outside the State Capitol Building, students heard from Senate President Pro-Tem Rob Mayer(R-Dexter), Senator Kurt Schaefer(R-Columbia), Rep. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and Rep. Jason Holsman (D-Kansas City).  ASUM also presented a legislator of the year award to Schaefer and Silvey.

The students then divided into smaller groups by region and met with lawmakers. The students thanked legislators for supporting level funding for higher education this year and urged them to support future funding initiatives, as well as financial aid.

Above: Sen. Rob Mayer speaking to students about the Senate’s work to ensure stable funding in the FY13 budget. For other photos of the event click here. Photo is courtesy of ASUM.

MU Extension proposal passes House

Legislation to enable MU Extension to form single- or multi-county districts for the purposes of efficiencies and local funding assistance passed the House of Representatives this week and now moves to the Senate. HB 1254, handled by Rep. Glen Klippenstein (R-Maysville) is an omnibus agriculture bill that was perfected on April 25 and third read and passed on April 26. The bill now must be considered by a Senate committee and then placed on the Senate calendar for consideration before the end of session May 18.

The same Extension language now appears in several senate and house bills, including SB 631, SB 865, and HB 1895.

MU professor testifies before Congressional committee

Dr. Scott Brown, Assistant Research Professor in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natual Resources (CAFNR), provided testimony before the Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry on April 26. Dr. Brown discussed dairy program alternatives for the 2012 Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill proposal expires September 30th, and House and Senate committees are working to produce a final bill before the 112th Congress concludes on January 3, 2013.

Above: Dr. Scott Brown, an assistant research professor with the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) during his testimony to the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry. Photo courtesy of Scott Brown.

Congressman Luetkemeyer tours MU Sports Medicine program

On April 23, Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-9) toured the Glenn L. McElroy Sports Medicine Center. The tour included visiting the treatment, rehabilitation, and hydrotherapy areas of the Center. The tour was led by Eric McDonnell, Assistant Athletic Trainer with the MU Volleyball and Tennis teams. The visit also included a tour of the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex.

Above: Assistant Athletic Trainer Eric McDonnell (left) with Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer.

MU’s Graduate Professional Council presents awards to legislators

Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis), and Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California) were recognized at a reception on April 19 by MU’s Graduate Professional Council (GPC). Sen. Green and Rep. Jones were recognized for their legislation that would create a 50/50 funding match program for capital improvements at colleges and universities. Sen. Schaefer was recognized for his continued support of higher education as the Appropriations committee chairman.  The reception is a yearly event that recognizes legislators who have made positive contributions to MU and graduate education.

Members of the Executive Board of the GPC with awardee Sen. Kurt Schaefer; Lindsey Jones, wife of Rep. Caleb Jones; and Janson Thomas, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Tim Green.

Extension delegation visits Capitol Hill

A group of MU Extension faculty, staff and volunteers visited with Missouri Congressional members in Washington D.C. on April 18 as part of the Public Issues Leadership Development conference.  The event is sponsored annually by the Extension professional associations.  Participants learn about the federal budget process, current issues affecting Extension and tips for communicating about the value of land-grant university programs. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which provided grants of land to states to establish colleges of agriculture and the mechanical arts. 

Pictured from left: Sandy Stegall, constituent communications coordinator; Karma Metzgar, Northwest Region director; Congressman Billy Long (MO-7); Bob McNary, Southwest Region 4-H specialist; Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director of MU Extension; and Michael Bottom, MU Extension State Council.  

Federal Relations Update

Students utilizing new federal Stafford loans are scheduled to see interest rates double from 3.4% to 6.8% starting July 1. In 2007, the interest rate on Stafford federal student loans was reduced to 3.4% as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act in 2007. Extending the current interest rate of 3.4% would cost the federal government $6 billion annually.

Senate Democrats introduced S. 2343, a one-year fix paid for by ending a corporate tax break. President Obama has stated his support for this one-year fix proposal. On April 27 the House, by a vote of 215-195, passed HR 4628, a one-year fix, paid for from an account in the President’s healthcare law.

April 13, 2012

Budget moves to the Senate floor

This week, the Senate Appropriations committee modified and voted on the FY 2013 budget bills, including HB 2003, which funds higher education.  The committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), concurred with the House version and elected to fund higher education institutions at their FY 12 levels.

The committee removed $1,340,000 that was placed by the House in HB 2003 for the Missouri Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, otherwise known as MoFAST.  However, $340,000 of that amount was relocated for MoFAST in HB 2007, which funds programs within the Department of Economic Development.

Three new sections were added to the higher education appropriations bill.  One section appropriates $5 million to community colleges and Linn State Technical College for a targeted workforce development training program.  Another new section devotes $182,124 in funding to the University of Missouri in order to fund economic research activities including, but not limited to, economic impact studies of the state’s tax credit programs.

Finally, a new section was created for the purpose of funding innovation centers across the state, many of which are located on higher education campuses and four of which are affiliated with UM.  Totaling $1,360,000, the funds are appropriated to the Department of Higher Education and Chairman Schaefer indicated his intent for MU Extension to oversee the disbursement of the funds.  The budget bills will now move to the Senate floor for debate. Lawmakers have until May 11 to pass the budget.

MU Extension legislation advances

Legislation to allow MU Extension to establish single or multi county districts to improve local programming and provide new funding options is headed to the Senate Floor. SB 865, sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), was reported to the floor by the Senate Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. In the House, identical language has been incorporated into an omnibus agriculture bill, HB 1254, that has been reported from the House Agriculture Policy Committee and is now awaiting consideration in the Rules Committee.

The bills provide county extension councils with the option of forming the districts for improved cooperation and efficiencies. They also could then consider placing local property tax levies on the ballot in the county or counties of the district to assist in supporting local programming. The proposal was brought forward by the State Extension Council and also has the support of Missouri Farm Bureau.

Senate passes bill to expand charter schools in Missouri

Under a bill perfected by the Senate this week, charter schools could be established in areas of the state other than St. Louis and Kansas City. Current law only allows the quasi-public schools sponsored by institutions of higher education in the two major metropolitan areas of the state. SB 576, sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), would allow the schools to be sponsored by a broader spectrum of organizations, add significant new accountability requirements for charter school sponsors, and change the approval and oversight process. 

All four campuses of the University of Missouri System currently sponsor at least one charter school.   UM has been involved in developing the accountability measures contained in the bill, and also sought changes in language that provided legal immunity for sponsors in cases where a charter school is shut down due to poor performance.

The bill faces a final vote in the Senate before moving to the House, where a similar bill has also been debated in committee.

Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl Schrader visits legislators in Jefferson City

Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader made her first legislative visits at the Missouri capitol during Legislative Day on April 3rd. The visits came on her second day as Chancellor and she met with several members of the state legislature including Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) and Rep. Keith Frederick (R-Rolla).

Above: Missouri S&T Chancellor Schrader (left) with Sen. Dan Brown (right) during her legislative visits on April 3rd.

MU students host town hall with local legislators

On April 12th, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Reps. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and Stephen Webber (D-Columbia) were panelists at a “More For Less” event sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri and the Missouri Students Association. Discussion focused on higher education funding, encouraging students to continue to be engaged in the political process, and other student issues.

Above from left to right: MU students Zach Toombs, Ben Levin, Steven Dickherber, with Rep. Chris Kelly, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, and Rep. Stephen Webber at the “More For Less” forum on April 12.

April 6, 2012

Senate Appropriations committee considers budget

This week, the Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) began its review of the FY 2013 budget bills.  During the review of HB 2003, the higher education appropriations bill, the committee elected to accept a majority of the House recommendations, including its recommendation that all 2- and 4-year public institutions receive the same funding as received in FY12.  For the University of Missouri, funding would be $398 million under the House plan.  The committee also elected to accept the House recommendations for level funding of the University of Missouri-related programs, such as the Missouri Telehealth Network and the Missouri Kidney Program, among others.  The Senate committee agreed to increase the State Historical Society’s appropriation by $200,000 to compensate for the Society’s assumption of responsibility for the Western Historical Manuscript Collection.  The committee plans to meet again on April 10th to review the remaining items open for debate and then vote on the bills.

Capital match legislation moving forward in the House

The House Higher Education committee this week adopted SB 655, sponsored by Senator Tim Green (D-St. Louis), that would create an option for a 50/50 capital funding partnership between the state and higher education institutions. The bill must now pass through the House Rules Committee before it can be debated on the House floor.

A similar bill, HB 1502 sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California), has also been heard and passed by the House Higher Education committee.

Committees approve MU Extension legislation

This week, committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives voted on and passed legislation that would enable Extension Councils to form single- or multi-county Extension districts to increase efficiencies and improve local Extension programming. The bills would also enable established districts to place property tax questions on the local ballot to support local programming.  SB 865, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) was approved April 4 by the Senate Agriculture, Food Production, and Outdoor Resources Committee. HB 1895, sponsored by Rep. Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown) was approved by the House Agriculture Policy Committee on April 5.

University of Missouri holds Legislative Day at the Capitol

More than 400 alumni, staff, and friends of the four campuses in the University of Missouri System and MU Extension converged on the state Capitol on April 3rd for the 38th annual Legislative Day.  The day is sponsored by the UM Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension and involves visits with legislators, campus and Extension displays, and a rally.  Chairman of the Alliance, Don Flora, emceed the rally, which featured Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and UM System President Tim Wolfe.  This year, all four Chancellors and the Vice Provost for Extension were also in attendance.  To see more photos of the Day, click here.

Above: Alumni Alliance Chair Don Flora (left), Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (center), and UM President Tim Wolfe (right) during the Legislative Day rally on April 3.

MU basketball team visits Capitol, signs autographs for fans

Members of the Mizzou Men’s basketball team, along with head coach Frank Haith and the coaching staff, came to Jefferson City on April 3 to visit the Capitol and be guests of the Governor for a dinner in the Governor’s Mansion.  The group also featured UM President Tim Wolfe, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton and MU Director of Athletics Mike Alden.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) presented a resolution on behalf of the Senate to Coach Haith and a second resolution to the team recognizing the season.  In the House, Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia) read and presented a resolution to the team on behalf of the Boone County legislative delegation. The team then autographed posters and basketballs for members and fans, and legislators posed for photos with Coach Haith and the Big 12 Conference championship trophy.

Following the legislative visits, the team and coaching staff had dinner with Governor Jay Nixon and his wife Georganne in the Governor’s Mansion.

Above: The MU basketball team with Sen. Rob Mayer, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, MU Athletic Director Mike Alden, and UM President Tim Wolfe. To view more photos of the MU Basketball team’s visit to the Capitol, click here.

Federal Relations Update

On March 30, President Barack Obama signed a 90-day extension of the federal highway and transportation bill. This extension allows Congress to negotiate a compromise in the varying bills currently in the U.S. House and Senate. Congress is working to pass a 2-year reauthorization. The last multi-year reauthorization of the highway bill was in 2005. Over the past several years, Missouri S&T’s University Transportation Center and MU have received funding from the transportation bill.

Congress is working through the budgetary process for FY13. The U.S. House passed a discretionary spending bill of $1.028 trillion on March 29, which is $19 billion less than required by the Budget Control Act. The Budget Control Act limits FY13 discretionary spending to $1.047 trillion or automatic cuts will occur. While the federal FY13 budget begins on October 1, the spending limits in the Budget Control Act take effect on January 1, 2013. Most of the funding that universities receive from the federal government comes from discretionary spending, including student financial aid, work study, Pell Grants, and funding throughout the agencies.

MU Basketball Team Visits Capitol


Above from left to right: Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard), MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, MU Head Basketball Coach Frank Martin, Rep. Mary Still (D-Columbia), Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia), and MU Athletic Director Mike Alden.

Above from left to right: Kim English, Michael Dixon, and Steve Moore sign posters for legislators, staff members, and fans.

Above from left to right: Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter), UM President Tim Wolfe, MU Head Basketball Coach Frank Haith, and MU Athletic Director Mike Alden.

Above: Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) with MU Head Basketball Coach Frank Haith speaking at the Dias of the Missouri House.