The Missouri Senate has begun debate on legislation to lessen the effects of the state's student transfer law.
The wide-ranging bill attempts to address both the law and unaccredited districts. Provisions within Senate Bill 493 include accrediting individual school buildings instead of districts as a whole and creating regional authorities across the state to oversee transfers.
Updated at 6:03 p.m. to include details on a House-Sen. joint committee's proposal to use performance-based criteria in a new Higher Ed. funding formula.
A joint House-Senate panel is recommending performance play a role in how much money Missouri’s colleges and universities get from the state each year.
Panel members on Monday released a proposed Higher Education funding formula, which would include performance measurement in such things as student enrollment/retention, the number of research programs at an institution, and public service to the surrounding community or state. State Senator David Pearce (R, Warrensburg) chairs the Joint Committee on Education.
The bill is pitting rural and suburban senators against each other. David Pearce (R, Warrensburg) chairs the Senate Education Committee and represents part of rural west central Missouri. He sponsors the bill that would more evenly spread K-12 funding by siphoning it off from richer suburban districts, primarily those near St. Louis.
Missouri lawmakers will be trying to plug a half-billion-dollar gap in next year's budget when they convene their 2012 session on Wednesday.
State budget director Linda Luebbering says much of the hole is due to a reduction in federal money, such as stimulus funds and Medicaid payments. However, State Senator David Pearce (R, Warrensburg) suggests that that number is not set in stone.
“There are predictions anywhere from $400 to $900 million, (that could) be our shortfall for this upcoming year," Pearce said. "How do you fill that? It’s gonna be tough.”
The original map had raised constitutional concerns because it divided rural Johnson County in western Missouri among two separate Senate districts. The county is represented in the Senate by Republican David Pearce of Warrensburg.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) wants to move Missouri’s universities and community colleges back to a performance-based funding model.
It would mark a return to the way business was once conducted. Graduation rates and similar markers were used as a basis for funding public colleges in Missouri, but the system was dumped a decade ago during an economic recession.
The proposal was one of several announced today that Senate leaders say will improve education in Missouri. Republican David Pearce of Warrensburg says combining the two will have benefits beyond cost savings.