In recent days, Governor Jay Nixon has signed bills that enact several key legislative priorities for the University of Missouri. The Governor signed SB 563  on July 5, which includes the 50-50 capital match fund for higher education institutions, a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) proposal in the Department of Higher Education, and a clarification of the process for approving collegiate license plates that would derail any attempts by KU supporters to get Jayhawk-themed Missouri plates.
The capital matching plan means public institutions who receive a commitment from a private donor or entity for at least 50 percent of the cost of a facility can bring that commitment forward to the Department of Higher Education and the General Assembly and seek support from the state to match the private donation through the annual appropriations process. It provides another avenue to encourage state support, although there is no guarantee that state funding will be available.
The STEM initiative was originally conceived by UM two years ago as a way of building awareness about the need to increase the number of elementary and secondary students who are interested in science and math and then go on to pursue careers in these areas. The initiative creates a matching program through the Department of Higher Education that could fund experiential camps, scholarships, and even additional faculty or equipment in STEM areas.
SB 563 , sponsored by Senator Bob Dixon (R-Springfield), included a last minute amendment that prohibited any group from creating a new college-themed license plate without legislative approval. This emerged from attempts by KU backers to create a Kansas Jayhawk themed Missouri plate. Now any institution must gain legislative approval in order to create such plates.
SB 563  also increased the statutory award authorization amount for Alzheimer’s Disease Research Projects at UM from $30,000 to $50,000 per year, allows the issuance of a document verifying completion of social work programs, and grants the Missouri small business technology development centers in MU Extension the ability to manage a virtual network for entrepreneurs.
Governor Nixon also signed into law HB 1042 , sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), which will lead to development of a 25-course library of lower division classes that are transferable between two and four-year institutions. The bill also requires use of best practices in remedial education.
Higher education budget signed and end of year revenues released
Governor Nixon signed the FY 2013 state budget on June 22 with a 1% withhold, or approximately $9 million, for higher education. The University of Missouri System is slated to receive $394 million for the fiscal year that began on July 1. University of Missouri-related items, such as the Missouri Kidney Program and Telehealth received level funding. A new $350,000 line item for the Missouri Federal and State Technology Program, or MoFAST, was also approved, while the Governor vetoed $100,000 of the additional $200,000 appropriated to the State Historical Society.
In related news, the state Office of Budget and Planning announced that Missouri ended fiscal year 2012 with revenues up 3.2 percent over last year. The FY 2012 budget was based on a consensus revenue estimate of 2.7 percent. Director Linda Luebbering announced that the state took in revenues of $7.34 billion, compared to $7.11 billion at the end of fiscal year 2011 – an increase of approximately $39 million. The Office of Budget and Planning did not announce how the surplus funds might be used, as Luebbering indicated it will be early August before she can calculate the final balance for the fiscal year ending June 30th.
On July 6, President Obama signed HR 4348 , the Transportation Research and Innovation Technology Act of 2012. This legislation enables over $100 billion to be spent on highways, mass transit, and other transportation over the next two years. Competitive language and funding was included in the legislation for national university transportation centers. HR 4348  also included a one-year extension of the interest rates for subsidized Stafford student loans which will remain at 3.4%.
The Senate passed a five-year, $500 billion extension of the farm bill on June 21. The Senate’s version saves $23 billion over the next 10 years, based on spending of the current farm bill. The savings comes from replacing four subsidy programs with one, consolidating 23 conservation programs into 13, and ending several sources of abuse in food stamps. The House Agriculture Committee began marking up a House version of the bill on July 11.
UM President Wolfe and all four Chancellors joined over 140 other university chancellors and presidents in signing a letter with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). The letter urges bipartisan leadership in seeking a balanced deficit-reduction agreement to avoid sequestration. The AAU and APLU press release can be found here , and the letter can be found here .
Gov. Nixon visits Missouri S&T and UMKC HB 1661 , a bill that gives small businesses a tax deduction of $10,000 for each new qualifying job that is created. Nixon signed the bill on June 27th at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Photo courtesy of Steve Puppe.
Congresswoman Hartzler visits MU Health Care
On July 3, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) toured some of MU Health Care’s facilities, including the clinical simulation center and a model room in the new patient care tower. She also had the opportunity to hear about research into cancer treatment that is being conducted.
UMKC School of Education Dean visits Missouri Congressional Delegation, Vice President Joe Biden
On June 21 and 22, UMKC School of Education Dean Wanda Blanchett and Associate Dean Monika Shealey participated in the annual “Day on the Hill” for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). The day’s goal is to advocate for federal policy and funding that supports educator preparation.
Their visit was highlighed in an article  by “UMatters,” the faculty and staff news website for UMKC. In addition to their scheduled visits with some of the Missouri Delegation, they had the opportunity to visit with Vice President Joe Biden.
UMSL hosts Service Academy Awards by Congressman Lacy Clay
Every year, Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO) announces the Service Academy Awardees at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This year, Jarvis Brown, third from right, was one of the award recipients. Jarvis Brown graduated from Gateway High School in St. Louis and will attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in the fall.