May 2, 2014

State Issues 

Governor vetoes tax cut plan

Governor Jay Nixon announced on May 1 that he vetoed SB 509, a tax cut plan passed by lawmakers earlier in the session.  Nixon cited his concerns about the potential costs to state services including education. To see his news release announcing the decision, go here.

Legislators will have the opportunity to attempt an override of the veto in the next two weeks of the legislative session. Since the bill originated in the Senate, a motion to override the veto will require 24 votes to be sent to the House, where it will require 109 votes. Therefore, the override would require all Republicans and at least one Democratic vote to succeed.

Budget bills move closer to final passage

The Senate considered the FY 2015 budget bills on April 28 and 29, with little change from the versions that were passed out of committee. On May 1, both the Senate and House moved to take the bills to a conference committee to make final decisions on the differences between the two chambers’ versions.

Conferees on HB 2003, the higher education funding bill, are Senators Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City),  Dan Brown (R-Rolla), Kiki Curls (D-Kansas City), and Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors) and Representatives Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Tom Flanigan, (R-Carthage),  Mike Lair (R-Chillicothe), Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis), and Chris Kelly (D-Columbia).  Major differences remaining to be negotiated in the bill include the following issues:

  • The House recommended a three percent increase to the core operating budget, or $26.5 million. The Senate recommended a five percent increase, or $43.3 million.  Since UM met all five of its performance measures for the year, it is set to receive between a $13 and $21 million core increase, depending on the conference committee’s final percentage.
  • The House recommended $1.4 million in the UM operating core for an UMSL equity adjustment. The Senate removed this amount.
  • The Senate recommended $3 million for MOREnet to expand broadband access. The House did not recommend this funding.
  • The Senate recommended $33 million for a new State Historical Society building in Columbia. The House did not recommend this funding in HB 2003. Notably, the House has recommended $25 million for this building in HB 2021, a capital funding bill.
  • The House recommended $1 million for innovation campuses. The Senate did not recommend this funding.
  • The Senate recommended $500,000 for a UMKC Centers for Neighborhood Initiative. This provision was in the House committee version of the bill, but was removed on the House floor, so it will be a conference item.
  • The House recommended a $7 million increase to the Bright Flight scholarship program to fund the first year of a loan forgiveness “boost” program that would encourage students to remain in the state upon graduation. The Senate recommended a $5.3 million increase to either fund a portion of the “boost” or, if the authorizing legislation does not pass the General Assembly this year, this amount would fully fund the existing Bright Flight program.
  • The House recommended a $20 million increase to the Access Missouri scholarship program. The Senate recommended a $8.5 million increase to the program.

The conference committee is expected to meet through next week and send the bills to the Governor within the constitutional deadline date of May 9.

Senate Committee hears Telehealth Project ECHO bill

On May 1, the Senate Veterans and Health Affairs committee heard HB 2125, sponsored by Representative Diane Franklin (R-Camdenton). Among other health-related provisions, the bill authorizes a Telehealth Show-Me Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes (ECHO) program. The bill requires the University of Missouri to collaborate with the state Department of Health and Senior Services in utilizing telemedicine to provide access to health care and treatment in underserved areas of the state. The FY 2015 state budget currently includes $1.5 million for UM’s Telehealth program to begin the project. The committee voted the bill out as a committee substitute and its next stop will be the Senate floor.

House approves 50/50 Capital Match funding bill

On May 1, the House of Representatives passed HB 2021, sponsored by Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), which funds a number of capital projects across the state and at higher education institutions.  The bill contains funding through General Revenue or a Surplus Revenue Fund for most of the University of Missouri’s proposed 50/50 capital match projects, all of which already have fifty percent of the cost raised from private donations. The projects include:

  • $10 million for the UMSL College of Business Administration building
  • $ 1.2 million for the Missouri S&T Experimental Mine building
  • $11.1 million for the MU College of Business Applied Learning Center
  • $ 2.7 million for the MU Fine and Performing Arts facilities
  • $ 1.5 million for the MU Teaching and Research Winery addition

The bill does not include funding for the UMKC proposed 50/50 project, which is $7.4 million for a Free Enterprise Center, nor the MU proposed 50/50 project, which is $6.1 million for Lafferre Hall in the College of Engineering. In lieu of these two projects, the bill contains funding through bonds in the amount of $38.5 million for Lafferre Hall and $19 million for the UMKC School of Medicine. It is expected that these 50/50 projects may be added back in the bill as it is considered in the Senate.

Also slated for bond funding is $8 million to the University of Missouri for construction of a business incubator in St. Louis. Finally, the bill includes $25 million for a new State Historical Society building in Columbia

Funding for several of the projects would be dependent on passage of SB 723, sponsored by Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), which would provide the bond funding. That bill is awaiting consideration on the House floor.

In related news, the House also passed HB 2020 on May 1, which authorizes funding for the construction of a new Fulton State Hospital in Callaway County.

Both HB 2021 and HB 2020 will now move to the Senate for consideration.

MU Trulaske College of Business celebrates centennial at Capitol

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Rep. Chris Kelly (back row left) and Rep. Stephen Webber (back row right) join Dean Joan Gabel (front row right) and students and leaders from the MU Trulaske College of Business to celebrate the centennial of the College in the Capitol on April 30.

On April 30, students and leaders came to the Capitol to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the MU College of Business.  Dean Joan Gabel, Associate Dean Mary Beth Marrs, and several student leaders from the College came to the Capitol to be recognized before the Missouri Senate by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and in the House of Representatives by Representatives Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and Stephen Webber (D-Columbia).

The College was established in 1914 as the School of Commerce with just 15 students. Today, the College can claim more than 32,000 graduates across the world.

UMKC Chancellor, alumni and University leaders meet with legislators May 2

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Rep. John Rizzo, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, and Rep. Jeff Grisamore meet with campus leaders and alumni for lunch May 2.

Legislative Profile: Representative Ryan Silvey

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Senator Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) is in his first term in the upper chamber after serving four terms as a representative.  Senator Silvey has emerged as a key budget leader in both chambers during his tenure of public service.

During his career, Silvey has been successful in creating a consensus to solve the problems the citizens of Missouri are facing. “Trying to get the people that ‘dig in’ on each side to come together, to get something to move the state ahead is what motivates me,” Silvey said.

During his campaign, Silvey constantly observed constituents asking where tax dollars were being spent. As a result, he became involved in the appropriations process to provide answers to the curious constituents.

“I’ve served on appropriations every year I’ve been in the legislature,” he said. “I chaired the House Budget Committee and am now vice chair of Appropriations in the Senate. Usually, when someone asks me a question about where their tax money goes, I can tell them.”

While working on the appropriations process, Silvey sees the challenges higher education institutions experience.  For example, federal matching funds the state receives reduce the flexibility of general revenue appropriations. As the amount of flexible general revenue decreases, the committee must prioritize projects to be funded with the remaining flexible revenue. Higher education “has that flexibility in the budget, [which makes] them a target” Silvey said.

Despite the funding challenges, Silvey recognizes how important UMKC and other higher education institutions are to economic development in Missouri. When businesses are looking at the state, the main concern they have is an educated workforce. “If businesses come here, they want to know there are enough people to draw from to do technical jobs,” he said.

As the final weeks of session approach, Silvey will be a key member of the conference committees making final decisions on the budget bills.

Federal Issues

White House Task Force publishes report on sexual assault on college campuses

The White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault published its first report, titled, “NOT ALONE” on April 29. The report includes next steps for the Depts. of Education and Justice and also includes recommendations for colleges and universities as they respond to a sexual assault. These institutional recommendations include examining sexual misconduct policies, having a single point of contact for a victim, and voluntarily conducting a survey to speak to the campus climate related to sexual assaults. In addition, the White House Task Force launched the website to provide resources to students.

Two days after the release of the White House Task Force, the Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released a list of the higher education institutions currently under investigation for possible violations of federal law over handling sexual violence and harassment complaints. As of the announcement on May 1, no college or university located in Missouri is under investigation.

On April 15, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) announced that she was distributing a survey to more than 350 universities in order to learn how sexual assaults are reported and investigated, what resources  are available to victims, and types of educational outreach efforts. The surveys are being conducted through the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight.

Missouri S&T students participate in USA Science Festival, visit capitol in Washington, DC

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Thirteen Missouri S&T students and with three faculty members participated in the USA Science Festival in Washington D.C. More than 10,000 K-12 students and 300,000 total attendees visited the Festival, the largest STEM event of its kind in the United States. The S&T booth led hands-on experiments such as pulling fibers and breaking tempered glass. Before returning to campus, the group met with Congressman Jason Smith’s (R-MO) staff and participated in a tour of the Capitol.

Congressman Clay honors St. Louis students at UMSL

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Congressman William “Lacy” Clay (D-MO) (center) hosted his annual Service Academy Awards ceremony on UMSL campus last month.  Students in the 1st Congressional district were selected to attend various military service academies.

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