President Choi testifies on tuition caps
University of Missouri President Mun Choi was at the Capitol on Monday meeting with senators in preparation for the Senate Education committee hearing on Tuesday. Dr. Choi testified on House Bill 297, an education omnibus bill that includes identical language to House Bill 856, which would remove the tuition caps on public higher education institutions. There was no opposition to the bill, and several testified in favor of HB 297, including Dr. Choi and a representative from the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE).
House Bill 297 will be voted out of committee on Monday.
New education omnibus bill
Senate Bill 152, which was filed by Senator Denny Hoskins and would establish the Show Me Success Diploma Program, has become an education omnibus with numerous amendments added both in the Senate and in the House Elementary and Education Committee this week. In Tuesday morning’s committee hearing, Representative Rusty Black added an amendment including tuition cap removal language. This is the same language that is included in HB 856, and HB 297. While the bill with this language passed out of committee, there was a technical error, and it will have to be voted on again next week before hitting the floor for a vote.
Senate Appropriations discuss higher education
Senate Appropriations has been meeting all week to finalize the budget allocation, and on Monday heard House Bill 3, which focuses on Higher education appropriations. The Senate proposed increasing designated funding to the core of UM System $10 million that would be designated to the NextGen Precision Health Facility. This is an additional $7 million from the House’s recommendation of $3m. Aside from these designated funds, the Senate recommended the UM System's core funding remain the same. The Senate also proposed putting funding back in for MO Excels, reversing the House’s recommendation to cut the programs in hope of using federal stimulus funds.
House Bill on pesticide training voted out and Senate proposes one-time funding
House Bill 1125 regarding the state’s standards on the pesticide training and certification program was voted out of rules this week. The bill, filed by Representative Done, would have brought the state’s standards up to meet the EPA’s newest national recommendations and increased program efficiency. Additionally, this bill includes language that would allow the University of Missouri Extension to charge for the costs of the program, currently set at $75. HB 1125 creates a board that would oversee the costs specific to administering the program and of materials and should the need arise, they would be able to increase the cost with a unanimous vote of the board.
The Governor originally recommended one time funding to help update the program, but the House took the funding out of their budget. However, Senate Appropriations recommended the Governor’s position of $430,000 one-time funding to be invested in updating the pesticide certification and training program, allowing it to meet the EPA's new standards. MU Extension administers the program in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to farmers across the state.
Federal Stimulus Committee
Tuesday morning, the House Sub Committee on Federal Stimulus Spending met to discuss the committee's plans and expectations. The committee stated the key items they are keeping an eye out for in program requests, and discussed timeline and other logistics. The committee anticipates most of their work being done during the interim.
There are three weeks left in session and things are starting to move quickly. Next week the Senate will take budget up on the floor for debate, with any changes from the House’s proposed budget likely being sent to conference.