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).
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.