Budget hearings begin as Governor Nixon prepares to deliver State of the State address
Governor Nixon will give his State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly on Monday, January 28 at 7:00 p.m. in the House chamber. The annual address features the Governor’s legislative and budgetary priorities for the upcoming year.
In other budget news, the Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), began taking public testimony this week about the various state budgets. The House Budget committee, chaired by Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), held an organizational meeting. The House Appropriations– Education committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), took public testimony regarding the Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education. Chairman Lair’s committee is scheduled to hear from the public 2- and 4-year Presidents on January 29 and 30.
Columbia area legislators gather to discuss UM priorities with alumni
The annual Boone County Mizzou Alumni Chapter legislative reception and forum was held Thursday, January 24, at Harpo’s in downtown Columbia. Alumni and University supporters heard updates on several University priorities, including the operating budget, bonding proposals for higher education construction, and the MU Extension districting proposal. The emcee for the evening was Wally Pfeffer, chair of the Mizzou Legislative Network. Legislative participants included Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California), Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), Rep. Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), Rep. Stephen Webber (D-Columbia), and Rep. John Wright (D-Rocheport).Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California) speaks in front of the Boone County MU Alumni Chapter.  MU Associate Professor Emeritus, Ted Groshong (left), converses with Rep. John Wright (D-Rocheport).
House and Senate leaders support bonding proposals
Speaker of the House Tim Jones (R-Eureka) held a press conference on January 23 to announce bipartisan support for a new bonding proposal. The Speaker, along with Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), and Rep. Lincoln Hough (R-Springfield), discussed the current opportunity for a new proposal, due to low interest rates and the retirement of debt from the last large bonding proposal.
Speaker Jones introduced House Joint Resolution 14  with 79 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. The proposal is identical to Senate Joint Resolution 3 , sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia). Both proposals, pending voter approval in November 2014, would authorize the issuance of up to $950 million for the construction, renovation, and rebuilding of state-owned and higher education-related capital projects. No more than $250 million of the proceeds may be allocated to projects unrelated to higher education and $40 million of this amount must be allocated to the maintenance of state parks and park facilities. Fifteen percent of the total amount higher education receives must be dedicated for public community colleges.
Senate Joint Resolution 3 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations committee, which is chaired by the sponsor of the resolution, Sen. Schaefer. The House version has been second read in the House and is expected to be referred to the Appropriations– Infrastructure and Job Creation committee, chaired by Rep. Kelly. That committee held an organizational meeting January 22 to discuss plans for the consideration of the proposals.
Bonding to support higher education facility needs is a high priority for the University of Missouri System because of major construction backlogs on all four campuses.
Joint Committee on Education meets to hear from Complete College America and discuss funding formula model
The Joint Committee on Education used a hearing January 24 with the national organization Complete College America  as an opportunity to discuss strengths and weaknesses in the current proposed funding formula for higher education. Complete College America is a national nonprofit organization established in 2009 with a mission of working with states to significantly increase the number of residents with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.
Missouri has been actively examining the organization’s recommendations. CCA focuses on such areas as improving remedial education, improving retention rates, decreasing the average time it takes for students to complete degrees, and encouraging an emphasis on performance-based funding models. Mike Baumgartner, Vice President for Finance and Special Projects for CCA, testified before the Joint Committee and praised several aspects of the proposed funding formula model being developed by the committee. He also reviewed the organization’s state-specific report on Missouri, which can be seen here .
During the question and answer session following Baumgartner’s presentation, legislators discussed the status of and next steps for the funding model. The committee is taking public comment on the latest version of the model through February 1; then the committee plans to meet and release a revised version of the model on February 4. That model will include spreadsheets showing how institutions would be impacted by the model, according to Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), who chairs the committee. To see the Joint Committee web site with links to all of the reports, click here .
Obama begins second term
President Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as President of the United States during a private ceremony on January 20, as required by the Constitution. The public swearing-in was a part of the inaugural ceremonies held on January 21. United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office for President Obama, and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor was selected by Vice President Joe Biden to administer his oath.
Congresswoman Emerson resigns
Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) resigned from Congress on January 23. She began representing Missouri’s 8th congressional district in 1996. On March 1, Emerson will become the President and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. State Republican and Democratic parties have until March 30 to select their candidates for a special election scheduled for June 4. The winner of the special election will serve as the member of the US House of Representatives for the remainder of the 113th Congress, which ends on January 3, 2015.