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Jan. 29, 2015 Volume 36, No. 17

Representatives united in support for higher-education funding at legislative forum

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Rep. Caleb Rowden spoke with Tracy Evers of the Boone County Alumni Association at the Jan. 22 legislative forum at Harpo's. The event is a chance for alumni and other people in the university community to talk directly with Missouri lawmakers. Photo by Mark Barna.

Five Missouri legislators took part Jan. 22 in the Boone County Legislative Forum at Harpo’s downtown. About 60 Mizzou Alumni Association members, students and guests attended the event.

The event is a chance for alumni and other people in the university community to talk directly with Missouri lawmakers.

Speaking at the event were Reps. Caleb Jones (R-50th District), Kip Kendrick  (D-45th District), Caleb Rowden (R-44th District), Stephen Webber (D-46th District) and Chuck Basye (R-47th District).

Representatives discussed Gov. Jay Nixon’s Jan. 21 State of the State address, in which Nixon unveiled his $26.1 billion fiscal 2016 operating budget proposal. Among his recommendations on education are:

• $50 million for the Foundation Formula, which funds K-12 public schools

• $161.5 million from bond proceeds for repair and renovations at colleges and universities

• $12 million for performance and equity funding for higher education, representing a 1.3 percent increase over fiscal 2015 funding

The $12 million increase would raise the University of Missouri System's core appropriation by $5.7 million, bringing the total to $428.5 million. If lawmakers pass revenue-generating legislation, an additional $13 million in performance funding could be available, raising funding by 2.8 percent and the total to the UM System to $440.5 million.

But Nixon, a Democrat, did not recommend $10 million to help fund the MU School of Medicine’s development (in partnership with CoxHealth and Mercy Health Systems) of a clinical campus in Springfield, Missouri. The project received $10 million in fiscal 2014. In the current fiscal year, funding was withheld by Nixon and has not yet been released.

Rowden questioned Nixon’s commitment to funding state higher education. “It remains to be seen where his priorities will be,” Rowden said. “He hasn’t always been pro higher education.”

The representatives were united in supporting higher education funding, including maintenance and repair for colleges and universities. Bayse, a freshman legislator, said he looks forward to “helping MU with its funding. I am a huge advocate of MU,” he said.

Webber praised MU’s work across the state in economic development. To keep Missouri strong, “it means funding higher education,” he said.

Proceeds for the legislative forum benefited the Boone County Scholarship Fund.