University presidents testify in Senate
The Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) met on February 11 to hear testimony from the state’s public four-year university presidents. University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe spoke about the University’s impact on the state and the unique missions of each campus, and highlighted the University’s implementation of its strategic plan. The committee also asked the Presidents about student admission requirements and retention rates.
The conversation topics followed a discussion on the Senate floor last week between Senator Schaefer and Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) about the adequacy of funding for the state’s public institutions. The debate occurred when Senator Pearce’s SB 492  was brought up for discussion. The bill would require the development of a higher education funding formula based on the number of performance measures an institution meets.
House committees move forward with appropriations
On February 11 and 12, the House Appropriations – Education committee, chaired by Representative Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), met to review departmental budget requests and the Governor’s recommendations for K-12 and higher education. First round budget determinations for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Higher Education (DHE) will be made by the committee next week.
Due to a discrepancy in the consensus revenue estimate for FY 2015, the Governor’s plans differ from those of the General Assembly. With this in consideration, Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Chair of the House Budget committee, elected to introduce budget bills that were either identical or substantially similar to the FY 2014 budget bills. Under this plan, each Appropriations committee will be able to make recommendations for additional funding based on a predetermined amount. For the education areas, that amount is $317 million, to be divided between DESE and DHE as the committee recommends. According to Chairman Lair, almost $100 million of the total is already obligated for previous one-time funding that must now be replaced. Thus, about $217 million will be available for distribution between the two departments.
After the committee considers and votes on amendments, it will prepare its report and submit it to the full Budget committee.
New MU Chancellor makes first visit to Jefferson City
Columbia area legislators gather for lunch Feb. 12 in the Capitol with the new MU Chancellor. From left: Senator Kurt Schaefer, Representative Stephen Webber, Chancellor Bowen Loftin, President Tim Wolfe, Representative John Wright, and Representative Caleb Rowden.
New MU Chancellor Bowen Loftin visited Jefferson City on February 12 to meet the state’s legislative leaders and advocate for the University’s legislative priorities. University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe joined Chancellor Loftin for many of the visits, which included meetings with Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) and Senators David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), and Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), House Majority Floor Leader John Diehl (R-Town and Country) and Representatives Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), Stephen Webber (D-Columbia), Caleb Jones (R-California), Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia), and John Wright (D-Rocheport).
Senate committee hears financial aid bill
At its February 12 hearing, the Senate Education committee heard SB 494 , which calls for a study of the effectiveness of the state’s main financial aid programs. Sponsored by committee Chair David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), the bill instructs the Joint Committee on Education to gather information regarding the Bright Flight, Access Missouri and A+ Scholarship programs and evaluate whether they are meeting intended objectives. The committee took no action on the bill.
UMKC’s Sustainability Team receives awards
The University of Missouri – Kansas City Sustainability Team was recently awarded first place in the 2013 RecycleMania National Recycling Competition. The Team beat 523 participating colleges and universities by recycling 86 percent of its overall waste products, which is equivalent to a reduction of 360 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The group’s goal is to improve UMKC’s sustainability programs and make them the norm on campus. In recognition of this achievement, the Missouri Recycling Association, or MORA, has awarded the Sustainability Team with the 2013 Outstanding Community Program Award and invited the team to attend MORA’s annual proclamation ceremony in Jefferson City on February 10. Every year, on “America Recycles Day”, MORA recognizes groups that embody and promote the spirit of recycling in the state and in their communities.
MU Extension hosts connection lunch in Marshall
MU Extension hosted an informational event for Extension leaders and elected officials in the Saline County area on Friday, February 14. The group gathered in Marshall to learn more about Extension’s programs in the area. UM System President Tim Wolfe gave the group an update on university activities and the legislative agenda. State representatives Dean Dohrman (R-LaMonte) and Dave Muntzel (R-Boonville) also attended the luncheon and spoke to the group.
For more information, click here .
UM’s annual Legislative Day is Tuesday!
Alumni, friends and supporters of the University of Missouri System campuses are encouraged to participate in Legislative Day on February 18 in Jefferson City. The annual event is sponsored by the University of Missouri Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension. Events include a rally in the first floor rotunda at 9:30, visits with legislators throughout the morning, displays in the third floor rotunda featuring the outreach and research of the University campuses and Extension, and a legislative panel on higher education topics at 1:00 p.m. Due to the President’s Day holiday on Monday, the House of Representatives will not convene until 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, however many House members are expected to be in their offices or attending committee meetings in the morning. The Senate will be conducting business as usual beginning at 10:00 a.m. For more information, please go here .
Legislator Profile: T.J. McKenna
Anyone walking into Representative T.J. McKenna’s capitol office will immediately see his love for the University of Missouri. His walls are decorated with a variety of Mizzou artwork and memorabilia. As a 2007 graduate of MU, McKenna (D-Festus) understands the significant impact the University has on the entire state.
“Teaching, research, service, and economic development are all core principles that make this state what it is today,” McKenna said. “Missourians have gained so much from the [UM] schools and we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for all the hard work and dedication everyone puts in.”
Despite the advantages education provides, McKenna says state funding continues to be a challenge, and he hopes the state legislature can increase funding for higher education in the coming years. Representative McKenna also noted his support for the University’s proposed 50/50 capital match projects, which are a major priority of the University this year.
When asked about his fondest memory of MU, McKenna responded, “I live my life by four important words that were embedded into my head throughout my years in college: Respect, Responsibility, Discovery, and Excellence. Using these basic principles, I have been able to achieve my dream of becoming a public servant. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my experience there, it has had such a positive impact on my life and I will never forget it.”
Congress passes debt limit increase, repeals cut to military retirement
This week, Congress passed a one-year increase in the federal debt ceiling. Now raised until March 2015, this increase will allow the federal government to continue to borrow funds in order to support previously appropriated funds. The House passed S. 540  by a vote of 221-201, while the Senate voted 55-43 to send the bill to the President. The bill also repeals the cost of living decrease for federal pensions, which was a part of the two-year budget agreement reached in December 2013. To allow for this funding offset, Congress extended sequestration for mandatory programs, such as physician reimbursements for Medicare, until FY 2024. The approval of this additional year of a 2 percent cut to health care providers will cost MU Health Care approximately $3.5 million.
Senator Blunt meets with Missouri S&T Chancellor Schrader
Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader (left) met with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) (right) on February 9 at the Chancellor’s residence on Missouri S&T’s campus. Chancellor Schrader and Senator Blunt discussed the two recently announced best-in-class academic areas in advanced manufacturing and materials for sustainable infrastructure. The two also had an opportunity to review the current status of the campus strategic plan and the record enrollment growth on campus.