Conferees appointed on budget bills
Differences between House and Senate positions on the FY 2014 state budget bills will be negotiated by a conference committee next week. Hearings are currently scheduled for May 6, 7, and 8 on all bills, including House Bill 3, the higher education funding bill. Senate conferees on HB 3 are Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Scott Rupp (R-St. Charles), Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City), Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City), and Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors). The House chose to appoint only three conferees for each bill this year, rather than the typical five members. House conferees on HB 3 are Reps. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage), and Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis).
A few major differences exist between the Senate and House positions on HB 3. The Senate recommended $34 million in additional funding to be distributed according to an institution’s performance, which mirrors the Governor’s recommendation. The House chose to include $20 million in additional funds to be allocated according to the distribution method currently used for two- and four-year institutions.
The Senate also added $10 million in new funding for a cooperative medical training program between the MU School of Medicine and CoxHealth and Mercy health systems in Springfield.
In addition, the Senate added $1.3 million in new funding to help establish an Occupational Therapy program at Missouri State University’s Springfield and West Plains campuses. Differences in scholarship funding amounts will also need to be worked out by the conference committee. The Senate and the House have until May 10 to send the budget bills to the Governor.
April revenue collections announced
On May 2, State Budget Director Linda Luebbering announced that 2013 fiscal year-to-date net general revenue collections increased 11.2 percent compared to 2012. Net general revenue collections for April 2013 increased by 27.4 percent compared to those for April 2012.
Bonding resolution debated by House
The House of Representatives brought up House Joint Resolution 14 for floor debate on May 2. The resolution, if approved by voters, would authorize up to $1.2 billion in bonds to be used for capital projects across the state, including projects on the campuses of state higher education institutions. After a small amount of debate, the resolution received preliminary approval by a voice vote. It needs one more vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Senate debates new higher education funding formula bill but takes no vote
On May 2, senators brought up Senate Bill 437, which enacts a new funding formula model for public higher education institutions. The formula emerged from work of the Joint Committee on Education over the past year. The Senate perfected the bill last week, but it needs a final vote before it can be sent to the House.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), has stirred controversy within the higher education sector because the latest version of the model would result in a shift in future funding. Currently, four-year institutions receive about 85 percent of higher education funding and community colleges receive about 15 percent. The model would change this ratio to 70 percent for four-year institutions and 30 percent for community colleges.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) were among those who questioned Sen. Pearce and other senators about changes in the bill. The Council on Public Higher Education, which represents all public four-year institutions in the state, is opposed to the current version. The University of Missouri System has also raised several concerns about the formula, including its weighting of professional programs.
Extension districting proposal added to agriculture bill
A proposal to allow MU Extension to form single- or multi-county districts to improve programming at the local level was added to an omnibus agriculture bill on the Senate floor this week. Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) added the language to House Bill 542, an agriculture bill sponsored by Rep. Warren Love (R-Osceola). The Extension language is also in Senate Bill 9, which is sponsored by Sen. Pearce and currently on the House Calendar, and House Bill 202, which is awaiting report to the floor from the Senate Education Committee.
UMSL honors Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel
Missouri State Treasurer and UMSL alumnus Clint Zweifel received the Outstanding Public Service Award at UMSL’s Salute to Business Achievement Awards Ceremony on April 16.
Legislators tour agriculture, veterinary medicine facilities
Several members of the House Agriculture Policy Committee came to MU on April 29 to tour the large animal hospital in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Meat Sciences facilities in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and the Bradford Research Farm near Columbia. Legislators participating in the tour included Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho), Rep. Warren Love (R-Osceola), Rep. Sue Meredith (D-St. Louis), Rep. Jay Houghton (R-Martinsburg), Rep. Randy Pike (R-Adrian), and Rep. Randy Dunn (D-Kansas City).