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Mo. Lawmakers Want Performance To Play Role In Higher Ed. Funding While Nixon Reverses $8.5M In Cuts

Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

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.

“Will it generate interest?  You bet," Pearce said.  "But at the end of the day we can’t just look at one line item for one individual institution, we have to look at it as it effects the entire state – and so that’s one thing that we’re gonna try to work through this legislative process.”

Public comments on the proposal will be accepted through next Monday, February 11th.

Meanwhile, Governor Jay Nixon (D) has announced that he’s reversed almost all of the $9 million he cut from Higher Education last year when he signed the current state budget into law.  He told reporters at his office today that state revenues had improved enough for him to release nearly $8.5 million that’s been withheld from Missouri’s colleges and universities since July first.

(Specifics of those distributions can be found here, by institution).

He also released several hundred thousand dollars that had been withheld from foster care programs, child-care subsidies and the State Historical Society of Missouri.

The governor had placed spending restrictions on about $15 million of items in the state's $24 billion operating budget when he signed it last June.

After Monday's decisions, Nixon still has a block on nearly $6 million of spending. The governor says he's waiting to see if tax revenues continue to improve before making a decision on those other items.

Revenues are up 9.5 percent so far this fiscal year.

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Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.