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Lobbyist Money Help  

Deal for UM system bond falls through

January 29, 2004
By: Alex Yalen
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 714, SB 761

JEFFERSON CITY - A deal that would give the University of Missouri roughly $200 million for building construction fell through Thursday morning on a technical ruling.

Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia, attempted to strike a deal Wednesday night that would have given the University of Missouri system roughly $200 million to help finance the construction of a hotel, convention center and performing arts center on the MU campus.

In return, Jacob would have dropped his opposition to a bill, which seeks to change Southwest Missouri State University's name to Missouri State University.

But Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, Thursday rejected the deal, saying that issuing bonds was "beyond the scope" of the bill in question.

Both Jacob and Kinder reiterated their hard-line positions on the bill while also leaving open the possibility of other deals in the future.

"Politics is like chess," Jacob said. "Pieces can still be moved around."

Nonetheless, after a session with little progress made, both Kinder and Jacob also voiced frustrations.

"We will bring this up again next week," Kinder said. "Is there really a whole lot of opposition other than Ken Jacob?"

Jacob, launched his filibuster Wednesday morning, has said that changing Southwest Missouri State to Missouri State University would harm both the funding and integrity of the UM system.

"For two decades, this is something that has scared UM system presidents to death," Jacob said. "This is something they've dreaded."

UM system Spokesman Joe Moore declined to comment.

Backers of the name-change bill deny the charge that a name switch would be detrimental to the UM system in any way, instead calling it "a marketing move for Missouri," Kinder said.

Supporters say that changing SMSU's name would help attract students to the school and businesses to the Springfield, Mo., region. They also maintain that changing names would not harm recruiting for any of the UM system campuses, nor would it force increased competition for resources.

"SMSU has a different mission now," said Norma Champion, R-Green County. "But it's still seen as a regional school."

Jacob's filibuster ended for the weekend, but it does not mean that it is over. Discussion can resume on the bill at any time next week.