Restoration of projects cut from MOHELA plan "doubtful"
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Restoration of projects cut from MOHELA plan "doubtful"

Date: April 23, 2007
By: Tina Marie Macias
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 16, SB 389

JEFFERSON CITY - The chance that the $46 million that was cut from University of Missouri System building projects will be restored is "doubtful" one powerful House Republican said Monday.

"The idea has been brought up. The problem is we would have to make a motion that is called 'exceeding the differences,'" House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, R-St. Louis County, said. "The House has passed 16, the Senate has now passed 16 and the funding for the Columbia and Kansas City buildings is in neither version."

The Senate had made such significant changes to House Bill 16 -- the appropriations bill which contains a list of projects funded by the sale of some of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority's -- that it must now go back to the House for approval. The version of the bill that passed the House did not include a list of projects. That was added by the Senate after the MOHELA bill was passed.

Icet said it is very rare that an "exceeding the differences" motion is successful. It would allow the House to make significant changes to the bill and then it would have to go to the Senate for one last check.

"The motion has to be successful at both ends of the building, and I doubt that will happen," Icet said. "There's no way a motion like that would pass the Senate."

Icet, who sat in the Senate Gallery with other powerful House Republicans and watched the prolonged debate over Nodler's bill Wednesday, said he supports Senate Republicans for their decision to punish other Senators for filibustering and removing projects from the MOHELA list.

But UM System Spokesman Scott Charton, in an email to the Missourian, said he is "disappointed" that UM system projects were axed Wednesday. And interim president Gordon Lamb said in a release that "the needs these projects would address are no less critical because of the Senate's vote, and they remain vital priorities for the University of Missouri." It was unclear is the system will look for other ways to fund these projects.

House Bill 16 is expected to be reconsidered in the House later this week, Icet said.

However, that might not matter. The removal of the cancer hospital and pharmacy building might be more of a political show than concrete legislation. The appropriations bill in which projects are listed will expire on June 30, and the first installment of $230 million from the MOHELA assets will not be available until weeks later -- making the appropriations bill a moot point.

The only way the list can become permanent is if the Senate passes Nodler's bill's "emergency clause" by a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate. That would make the appropriations go into effect immediately after the governor signs the legislation. Last month MOHELA reported that they had $211 million ready to be appropriated.

However, Nodler's bill received preliminary approve with a vote of just 21-12, far from a two-thirds majority. And Republicans have an even smaller majority in the House. Therefore, it is very likely that the "emergency clause" will not pass and  the plans detailed in the current MOHELA appropriations bill will have to be appropriated again. At that time the cancer hospital and pharmacy building might be re-added to the bill.

Senate Speaker Pro Tem Mike Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, said he expects Senate Bill 389 to be brought up for final passage today.

Although the UM System did suffer from last week's cut, the Senate on Monday passed the $1.17 billion higher education budget.

The budget gives the UM System a 4.5 percent increase from last year -- more than $430.8 million to the system, up from $412.9 million from last year.

What has to happen for the MOHELA plan to become law