Senator David Pearce’s Capitol Report for the Week of May 30

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Improving Higher Education in the 21st District

Improving Missouri’s support and commitment toward higher education has been a top priority for me throughout my career as a legislator – especially when the universities and colleges of the 21st District are concerned. I am pleased to say that through the passage of a favorable state budget and other legislation relating to Missouri higher education, I will leave the Capitol this Session knowing that students, faculty members and communities in my district have a brighter future ahead of them.

Some of the highlights surrounding District 21 higher education this Session include a four percent increase in state appropriations for the University of Central Missouri and other public two- and four-year universities and colleges, which would allow tuition costs to remain constant. There is also more support for scholarship programs that help students achieve academic success, including an increase of $4 million for Access Missouri, $2.5 million for the A+ Scholarship program and $500,000 for Bright Flight.

One of the largest legislative achievements from this past year was the General Assembly’s passage of my Senate Bill 997, which pertains to comprehensive higher education improvements. The bill is currently awaiting the governor’s signature. Some of the measures contained in Senate Bill 997 would help wartime veterans and their families receive financial aid for college degree programs, work to increase transparency between university administrations and student bodies as well as enacting scholarship programs like the “15 to Finish Act” and the “Guided Pathways to Success Act.” I’m confident the governor will see the importance of this legislation and will sign the measure into law.

I’ve always been focused on improving the education system in our state and district, and I’m happy to know that this Session will successfully cap off a 14-year-long career targeted toward higher learning advancement. In 2015 I supported funding packages for Missouri’s two- and four-year college and university projects. Around $200 million in total was allocated toward higher education improvements, with $12.2 million specifically used to fund renovations to the UCM W.C. Morris Science Building. This bonding bill also provided for much-needed improvements to community colleges.

In other previous Sessions, I’ve worked with my fellow lawmakers and the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) to secure funding for various other improvements on the UCM campus. In 2009, with the help of Representative Denny Hoskins, we were able to fund over $13 million to complete a massive renovation to the University’s Morrow-Garrison buildings. Providing students with not just adequate, but outstanding environments in which to learn is an investment that benefits all members of a community in the long run.

As I move forward from my role as a state senator in the coming months, I pledge to continue working with the General Assembly, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and the Missouri Department of Higher Education to identify and address the areas that most need improvement in the 21st District. It’s been a pleasure serving as your state senator, and I can’t thank you enough for all of your support over the years, and will continue to strive for the best learning and working conditions for Missouri students and university staff.

As always, please feel free to contact me or my staff with any questions or concerns at any time. We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions and trying to answer any questions you may have. You can reach us by phone at 866-277-0882 (toll-free) or (573) 751-2272, or by fax at (573) 526-7381.

Senator David Pearce serves Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline counties in the 21st State Senatorial District.