Legislators override 10 vetoes, sustain veto of tax cut bill
After Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a record 29 bills and portions of three additional appropriations bills, the stage was set for a lot of activity during the annual Veto Session held Wednesday, September 11, in Jefferson City. After twelve hours of debate, the House and Senate overrode a total of ten bills by gathering the necessary two-thirds majority in each chamber to send the bills to the Secretary of State for enactment.
The highest profile bill debated since the end of session was HB253, a tax cut bill passed by the General Assembly to help compete with neighboring states. Governor Nixon vetoed the bill out of concerns it would cause a massive reduction in funds available for education, higher education and other areas of state government. In the end, the House vote was 94-67, which was 15 votes short of the required 109 for an override. Because the bill failed to advance from the House, there was no vote on the measure in the Senate.
Two key leadership decisions were also made during Veto Session this week. House Republicans elected Rep. John Diehl (R-Town and Country) as speaker designee, meaning he is in line to replace current House Speaker Tim Jones when he departs the House after the 2014 session. Diehl has an undergraduate degree from MU and a law degree from St. Louis University. Legislators in the House also elected Rep. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) as Speaker Pro-Tem of the House, filling the vacancy created when former Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem) was elected to Congress earlier this year.
Governor releases funding restrictions
Governor Jay Nixon announced on September 12 that he would release $215 million of the funds he restricted for the current fiscal year. The expenditure restrictions were imposed due to a planned veto override attempt on HB 253, which reduced various taxes. The override was not successful, which allowed the Governor to release a portion of the funds. Included in the total is $33.7 million in funding for public institutions of higher education. The University of Missouri System is slated to receive $16.7 million of that amount including $1 million for the large animal veterinary medicine program at MU. The $10 million awarded to the MU School of Medicine to partner with Mercy and CoxHealth in Springfield was also released. Finally, UM-Related appropriations, such as the Missouri Kidney program and State Historical Society will receive the small amounts restricted from their respective budgets. For a list of all restrictions and the amounts released, click here .
Board approves university budget request
At its July 19 meeting, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the state appropriations request for fiscal year 2015. Included in this year’s request is $434.6 million for core operations and performance. Contained within this amount is $407.5 million for the University’s operating budget, $2 million for the UMKC and Missouri State University joint pharmacy program, $340,000 for the Missouri Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, $10 million for the MU School of Medicine partnership with CoxHealth and Mercy health systems in Springfield, and $14.8 million for performance funding based on the Department of Higher Education’s metrics.
The FY15 proposal also includes a request for $59.9 million to advance the University’s economic competitiveness. Within the total is $50.9 million for STEM education and research capacity. The remaining $9 million would be dedicated to endowed professorships and scholarships and to the Missouri College Advising Corps, which assists high school students as they plan for college.
The Coordinating Board for Higher Education approved the FY 15 budget request for all higher education institutions at its September 5 meeting. The Board recommended funding for every institution at its FY 14 level, as instructed by the State Budget Director. For the University of Missouri System, an operating request of $407.5 million was approved. The Board also included UM’s request for $2 million for the UMKC and Missouri State University pharmacy program and the $10 million requested for the MU School of Medicine and Springfield partnership.
Accompanying the CBHE’s core request is an alternative request submitted by the Department of Higher Education for target initiatives, totaling $59 million. Within this amount is $7.8 million for an increase in institutional base budgets, $31.2 million for the performance funding pool, and $20 million for Caring for Missourians II.
Senate committee visits UMSL
The Senate Interim Committee on Capital Improvement Assessment and Planning, chaired by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), held a hearing at the University of Missouri – St. Louis on August 26. The committee was created to study capital needs across the state, including those in parks, mental health facilities, state buildings, and higher education facilities. Other attendees included Senators Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City), and Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis).
The committee held a brief meeting and then Chancellor Tom George and Vice Chancellor Jim Krueger led the committee on a tour of Benton-Stadler hall on the UMSL campus. Built in the 1960s, Benton-Stadler’s existing conditions do not meet current building codes or standards. The project is UMSL’s tier one priority request for state funding, at a cost of $62.8 million.
From left, Sen. David Pearce, Chair (R-Warrensburg), Sen. Joe Keaveny (D-St. Louis), Sen Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City), Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles), Vice Chancellor Jim Krueger, and UMSL Chancellor Tom George. Also present, but not pictured was Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar).
Legislators tour MU as part of MOBIO statewide event
Several state legislators participated in a tour of the University of Missouri July 16 during the annual MOBIO benchmarking tour of the state. Twelve senators and representatives spent the day in Columbia touring the MU Research Reactor, University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics and the School of Medicine, and the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute. The lawmakers also had a chance to have lunch in the Missouri Athletic Training Complex.
From left, Rep. Noel Shull (R-Kansas City); Rep. Lynn Morris (R-Nixa); Rep. Vicki Englund (D-St. Louis); Rep. Courtney Curtis (D-Berkeley); Rep. Judy Morgan (D-Kansas City), Rep. Margo McNeil (D-Florissant); Rep. Kimberly Gardner (D-St. Louis); Kelly Gillespie, executive director of MOBIO; Sen. Ed Emery (R-Lamar); Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg); and Rep. Randy Pike (R-Adrian).
Extension thanks Rep. Reiboldt for his support on districting legislation
Extension leaders, community leaders and legislators gathered in Neosho on August 5, for a dinner to thank Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho) for his work on MU Extension’s districting legislation. Reiboldt sponsored bills for the districting law in 2012 and, again, in 2013 when it was passed by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.
From left, are Michael Ouart, vice provost for Extension; Rep. Bill Lant (R-Joplin), Rep. Charlie Davis (R-Webb City); H.C. Russell, State Extension Council Chairman, Rep. Bill Reiboldt (R-Neosho); Rep. Bill White (R-Joplin); Rep. Sonya Anderson (R-Springfield); Rep. John Diehl, (R-Town & Country); Sen. Ron Richard (R-Joplin); and Rep. Tom Flanigan (R-Webb City).
UMSL Children’s Advocacy Center opens
The University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) teamed up with Children’s Advocacy Services to open a staged home in Kirkwood on August 23 for training in child abuse situations. The home of the new Children’s Advocacy Center assists in therapy for children dealing with physical and sexual abuse and neglect.
Located at 121 West Monroe, the center also takes real-life scenarios and applies them in a mock situation for UMSL students and law enforcement teams to learn how to spot signs of abuse. The Children’s Advocacy Center works with children ages 3-17 in collaboration with UMSL’s psychology department.
From left to right: Director of Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis Jerry Dunn, Rep. Sue Allen (R-Town & Country), Chancellor Tom George, Rep. Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), and Rep. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur)
Legislators attend MU’s CAFNR Field Days
Beginning in August and continuing through September and early October, MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) is hosting field days at MU’s agriculture research stations across the state.
The Delta Research Center Field Day was held on August 29 and included visits by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO), Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, state Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff), Reps. Kent Hampton (R-Malden), Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff), and Steve Cookson (R-Poplar Bluff). The day’s festivities included breakfast, recognition of local farms that have been in a family’s name for more than 100 years, and tours of the research center.
Field Days were also held at the Greenley Research Center in Novelty, the Graves-Chapple Research Center in northwest Missouri, and the Hundley-Whaley Research Center in Albany. Several legislators have also attended these events.
From left: UM System Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Hank Foley, MU Vice Chancellor for Research Rob Duncan, and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Congress passes student loan interest rate fix, President Obama signs bill
President Obama signed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 into law on August 9. The bill, HR 1911  passed the Senate on July 24 by a vote of 81-18 and the House on July 31 by a vote of 392-31.
The bill ties federal undergraduate and graduate student loans to the 10-year Treasury note. From the Treasury base, interest rates will be set each year and will include a 2.05 percent markup for undergraduates, 3.6 percent markup for graduate students, and 4.6 percent markup for PLUS loans taken out by parents. The bill also caps interest rates at 8.5 percent for undergraduates, 9.5 percent for graduate students, and 10.5 percent for parents.
Once set, the terms of the loan are fixed for the life of the loan. Congress aimed to create a bill which was budget neutral, and this bill, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would save the federal government $715 million over the next 10 years.
In FY12, 32,462 UM System students received federal subsidized student loans, and thousands more received other forms of federal financial aid. In total, UM System students recieved more than $532.9 million in total federal student financial aid, which includes student loans, veterans benefits, pell grants, and work study.
Congressman Jason Smith visits with MU Extension in Southeast Missouri
A stop at The Ott Farm in De Soto, Missouri was included in Congressman Jason Smith’s (R-MO) recent tour of his district. The Ott Farm features a wind tunnel, and most of the produce grown in the tunnel is sold at the De Soto Farmer’s Market. MU Extension is a partner in the venture, which started in 2009. The tour also included highlights about other locally grown produce, use of WIC vouchers and EBT cards at farmer’s markets, and the MU Extension Family Nutrition Education Program.
Back row: From left, Jake Williams (Ott Farms), Jessie Scherrer (Jefferson County Extension Council Chair), Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO), Sue Wille (FNEP Project Director & Jefferson County CPD), Delores Howard (St. Francois County Extension Council & State Extension Council), Paul Klossner (Jefferson County Extension Council & State Council), Rep. Elaine Gannon (R-De Soto), Karen Roop (Roop Farms), Wade Roop (Roop Farms & Jefferson County Extension Council)
Front row: Kenny Wilson (Urban Council Chair), Terri Kreitler (Jefferson County, Missouri, Council District #5), Julie Ott (Ott Farms)
University of Missouri System and campuses sign-on to innovation deficit letter to Congress
The Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) published an open letter to President Obama and Congress on July 31. More than one hundred eighty Presidents and Chancellors of higher education institutions across the country, including the UM System and all of its campuses, have signed on to the effort highlighting the innovation deficit .
The innovation deficit is the flat or declining investment in research and higher education at a time when other nations such as China, Singapore, and Korea are dramatically increasing their investments in those areas. UM System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor Mark Wrighton of Washington University in St. Louis sent a separate letter to each of the Missouri Congressional members highlighting the campaign. The letter can be found here .
President Obama announces plan to make colleges more affordable
President Barack Obama announced his plan to make college more affordable for Americans on August 22. His plan, “A Better Bargain for the Middle Class: Making College More Affordable ” consists of three main initiatives: paying for performance, promoting innovation and competition, and ensuring that student debt remains affordable. Specific details for each initiative have not been released, but the Department of Education plans on hosting town hall meetings nationwide in the coming months on this proposal.