Legislative Priorities

Bear statue

Priority 1

Appropriate on-going and one time funds to sustain Missouri State University as the value option for public universities in Missouri

Increase Missouri State University’s Operating Appropriation

Missouri State appreciates the increase the General Assembly appropriated in last year’s budget. With this increase, the State has restored Missouri State University’s operating appropriation to its pre-2009 level.

Unfortunately, the cost of operating the university increases every year. Expenses for utilities, maintenance, equipment and supplies goes up by inflationary amounts each year.

Missouri State also anticipates that some expenses will increase by more than inflation in the coming year. For example, the university’s required contribution rate in MOSERS will increase by approximately $2.6 million in the coming year. The university’s enrollment also increased by 1,265 students over last year. More students require more resources.

To ensure that the quality of the education that students receive does not suffer due to these increased expenses, Missouri State University requests a five percent increase in its operating appropriation through the State’s performance and equity funding model.

Appropriate sector equity funding for Missouri State University-West Plains

Missouri has 14 public two-year colleges. Over the past two years, 13 of those colleges received more than $10.8 million in equity funding. One college was left out — Missouri State University-West Plains.

The West Plains campus is part of the Missouri State University system. However, it is a separately accredited institution that is entirely independent from the Springfield campus. The Missouri Department of Higher Education, the United States Department of Higher Education, the Higher Learning Commission, and virtually all other governmental and accrediting bodies treat the West Plains campus as a standalone public two-year college.

In short, the West Plains campus is in the same category as the State Technical College of Missouri. Both are public two-year institutions that are not community colleges (meaning they are not financed with local taxing districts). State Technical College of Missouri received $833,979 in sector equity funding during the last two budget cycles. West Plains received $0.

Missouri State University requests that the General Assembly appropriate $833,979 in equity funding for the West Plains campus. Missouri State also requests that the West Plains campus receive a pro rata share of sector equity funding appropriated to two-year colleges for fiscal year 2018.

Appropriate $1 million in matching capital funds for the Ozarks Education Center at Bull Shoals

Proposed Ozarks Education Center
Proposed Ozarks Education Center

Missouri State University’s Bull Shoals Field Station, located in Taney County, provides a location for education and research by Missouri State faculty and students, other universities and non-profit organizations. University classes are offered completely on-site in the summer and as field trips throughout the year. A summer academy for high school students has been offered since 2009 and field trips with a nearby middle school occur each summer. Faculty and students have completed research at the station on breeding birds, native bats, effects of controlled burning, aquatic ecology, amphibian behavior and other topics. The station monitors Bull Shoals Lake, Bee Creek, bird populations and seasonal change using technology as part of a national network.

While there is an increasing demand for educational programming and opportunities available at the Bull Shoals Field Station, facilities are limited. A donor has graciously donated $1 million in land adjacent to the existing field station property, contingent on the university’s commitment to build an education center at the Bull Shoals Field Station.

The university requests that the state match the $1 million donation with a $1 million capital appropriation to construct the Ozarks Education Center at Bull Shoals. With this investment, Missouri State University will construct an approximate 4,000 square foot facility that will provide one central location to accommodate large groups of students and researchers for classes, research, activities and programs at the Bull Shoals Field Station.

Reimburse Missouri State University for tuition waivers under the Missouri Returning Heroes Act

The Missouri Returning Heroes Act (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 173.900) requires public universities to reduce tuition for combat veterans to $50 per credit hour.

The Missouri Returning Heroes Act is a good law that provides meaningful assistance to combat veterans. Missouri State University is proud to enroll combat veterans under the Act.

The Act contains a provision for public universities to seek reimbursement from the State for tuition waived for combat veterans. Missouri State University has sought this reimbursement in past years, but the State has not appropriated it.

Missouri State University requests that the General Assembly appropriate a reimbursement for the tuition waived for combat veterans. In fiscal year 2016, Missouri State waived $50,195.72 in tuition for combat veterans under the Missouri Returning Heroes Act. Throughout the life of the program, Missouri State has waived a total of $541,552 in tuition.

Priority 2

Eliminate or modify statutory constraints on Missouri State University’s ability to offer graduate and professional degrees

Missouri State University has partnered with the University of Missouri to offer several programs. Examples include the PharmD program with UMKC and the engineering program with the University of Missouri Science and Technology. These programs have performed well, and Missouri State intends to continue these cooperative programs, and explore other cooperative programs, in the future.

Not all programs are best offered cooperatively. For example, Missouri State has established standalone professional doctorate programs in audiology, nurse anesthesia, nursing practice and physical therapy. These programs have also performed well. Missouri’s workforce would benefit from additional professional doctorate programs being pursued at Missouri State — most notably in health and business fields.

Public universities should be encouraged to collaborate on graduate and professional programs when collaborative programs make sense. In other situations, they should also be afforded the flexibility to develop degree programs independently. 

The law limits Missouri State University’s ability to develop graduate and professional degree programs, effectively requiring all such programs to be established only through cooperative arrangements under which the University of Missouri is the degree granting institution.

Missouri State University has worked diligently with the Missouri Department of Higher Education, the University of Missouri and the other public universities to resolve the array of issues surrounding these degree restrictions. These discussions are on-going, and Missouri State is hopeful that they will result in a solution acceptable to all stakeholders.

Missouri State University requests that the General Assembly eliminate or modify the statutory constraints on the university’s ability to offer graduate and professional degrees.

Priority 3

Preserve local control of university operations

Missouri State University is governed by a Board of Governors. The members of the Board are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

The State has authorized the Board of Governors to make decisions about the university’s operations. This means politically accountable individuals familiar with the university decide who should be hired, what facilities should be built or renovated, what policies make the most sense for the institution, what programs should be expanded, what student services should be provided, how the finances of the university should be managed and the prices to charge for classes, programs and other services.

Local control should continue to underlie the State’s higher education policy. Universities are complicated businesses that must react swiftly to the changing demands of students, employers, alumni, supporters and the community.

Regulations that erode local control impair the university’s ability to react to the dynamic higher education business landscape. The result is that institutions cannot effectively expand programs to meet workforce demands, recruit prospective students, and retain and graduate students with the skills required in their field.

Missouri State University requests that the General Assembly preserve local control of university operations by the Board of Governors.