Democrats division is the reason MOHELA plan has haulted
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Democrats division is the reason MOHELA plan has haulted

Date: March 14, 2007
By: Tina Marie Macias
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 389

JEFFERSON CITY - The governor's plan to sell off some of the state's higher education loan authority assets is in a political quagmire. Not only will Republicans and Democrats decide on a plan, but Democrats cannot come to an agreement amongst themselves, one Senate Democrat said Wednesday.

Late Tuesday morning a group of Republicans and Democrats met to find a bipartisan compromise on Sen. Gary Nodler's, R-Joplin, wide-spanning higher education bill that includes the MOHELA sale. The meeting came directly after Senate Democrats easily held a 14-hour filibuster blocking a vote on Nodler's bill.

Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, one of the leading opponets against the governor's MOHELA plan said he was pleased that he was invited to the meeting, but at the end of the meeting he said it was clear that there was no deal and all the changes were tentative.

"The fact that there was a meeting raised a lot of expectation on the other side," Shoemyer said.

Shoemyer added that during the meeting, he was pleased with changes that were being made in his favor -- he is concerned that the MOHELA sale might not come up with all $335 million need to fund the projects It has currently sold $211 million of its assets. Shoemyer would instead like to see this money bonded.

One of the suggestions brought up in the meeting, Shoemyer said, was the possibility of bonding half of the money needed to fund the building proejcts. He also thinks that MOHELA money should be used more for student needs.

However, although that pleased Shoemyer, other Democrats wanted different things. Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, has contituously said he thinks that the MOHELA sale should fund research facilities and shouldn't infringe on stem-cell reasearch. And Senate Minority Leader Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, has said she's concered with the tuition cap.

But Coleman said that although there might be different opinions within her cacus, that the same thing happens with the Republicans and that the Republicans must not have enough votes to pass Nodler's bill. It takes 18 votes to pass a bill -- 21 one the Senate members are Republican.

"It's great when both sides work toghet, but when you have what you need, why is there so much put on Democrats' support?" Coleman said. She said if Republicans had all 21 votes, they wouldn't come to the Democrats for a compromise.

When Democrats would not accept a compromise, Republican Senate leaders Tuesday night aside the higher education legislation rather than forcing senators to remain in session for a second straight night of expected Democratic filibustering.

The Senate did not return to the bill Wednesday, and it was unclear when it would do so.