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.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.
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.
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.
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.