Senate Bill 437 regarding funding for Missouri higher education was read to the Missouri Senate Education Committee March 27.
Senator David Pearce, R-21, sponsors the bill. He said the bill incorporates much of the funding formula released by the Joint Committee on Education Feb. 26.
Stacey Preis, Joint Committee Executive Director, said the only difference between the plan released by the Joint Committee and Senate Bill 437 is the bill includes community colleges in the performance funding formula as opposed to calculating funding for community colleges differently from universities.
The Joint Committee on Education was composed of Senators and Representatives charged with creating a funding formula for higher education in Missouri. The final plan the committee released covers 40.61 percent of four-year masters level university’s operating costs, according to the Joint Committee website. Ninty percent of this funding is based off factors such as credit hours, research and public service expenditures.
The remaining 10 percent is performance based and includes factors such as freshman to sophomore retention rates, six year graduation rates and institution specific missions.
After the bill is read by the Senate Education Committee, Pearce said it will be voted on by the committee, likely on April 3. If it is approved by the committee, it will be voted on by the entire Missouri Senate.
If this bill is passed by the Missouri legislature, it will go into effect Aug. 28 and the formula will be used to allocate funding for fiscal year 2014.
“I agree with performance funding formula for higher education, and in order for that to happen, legislation needs to be passed,” Pearce said. “It’s the next logical conclusion.”
University Budget Director Dave Rector said it is challenging to predict the impact the bill could potentially have on Truman State.
“The model they ran showed new money flowing in through this process, and it doesn’t hurt us, but it’s never been answered how this will work if we don’t have new money appropriated to higher education,” Rector said.
Truman’s target amount to come from state funding is $41,965,610 for fiscal year 2014, according to a simulation of the formula released by the Joint Committee. Governor Jay Nixon recommends that Truman receives $39,919,610 from state funds for fiscal year 2014, according to the simulation. Truman is underfunded by $2,454,686, according to the simulation.
After this formula was released by the Joint Committee Feb. 4, higher education institutions had the opportunity to submit comments and concerns about the formula. Truman submitted comments regarding the school’s liberal arts mission. Rector said the Joint Committee addressed some of these comments before the final formula was released, but concerns still remain because the formula is based heavily on enrollment.
“The primary issue still is the model is running on student enrollment and the inventive is to enroll more students,” Rector said. “It’s driven by head count and credit hours so that’s concerning for us because we’ve grown a bit, but we might not grow any more. We’re just seeing what happens next and keeping our fingers crossed.”
Nate Walker, R-3, said he does not think funding formula legislation is necessary, and he is unsure if Senate Bill 437 will make it to the General Assembly. Walker said whatever the outcome, he supports University President Paino and the Truman Board of Governors.