Feb. 18--JEFFERSON CITY --Some of the state's higher education institutions post great numbers in graduation and loan default rates, while others do not. A bill that would hold institutions accountable for their performance was endorsed by Senate today.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, would require public universities to establish five performance criteria. These criteria would be used to determine the amount of extra money an institution would receive when the state can increase college funding. It would expire in 2016.
The criteria, established with the help of the Department of Higher Education, must include job placement statistics and graduation and retention rates.
Job placement statistics as a performance measure may not be used during years when the state unemployment rate is higher than the previous calendar year's rate.
"I wanted to ensure that if we have a recession like the one we experienced in 2008, that we would not have to have the same kind of measurement," Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, said today. Chappelle-Nadal offered the amendment.
Missouri uses a similar formula to fund institutions now, but the bill would make it a law.
The state has about $800 million for higher education funding.
In Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State address, he proposed allocating an average budget increase of 5 percent to four-year state universities through a performance funding model. For example, Lincoln University --which met three of five performance goals -- would receive a 3.1 percent increase and the University of Missouri System -- which met all five performance goals -- would receive a 5.2 percent increase.
Pearce said his bill is a step in the right direction to make funding more rigorous.
However, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has expressed his concern that the bill is not enough. He added an amendment today that would make it abundantly clear the legislature can determine funding through this model.
"I don't want institutions to believe somehow they're locked in a (funding) formula," Schaefer said on the floor this morning.
Schaefer also voiced his apprehension that the schools -- with the help of the department -- were setting performance criteria rather than the legislature.
This session, Schaefer has made his opinion loud and clear: four-year state institutions should be held more accountable for their good and bad performances.
For example, Harris-Stowe State University has a six-year graduation rate of 9.5 percent and in 2013 had a loan default rate of 27.9 percent.
On the other hand, University of Missouri-Columbia has a six-year graduation rate of 76.3 percent and in 2013 had a loan default rate of 6.1 percent.
"There are 13 institutions competing for public money, some do a good job, others don't," Schaefer said at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing last week. "This is the time to look at that."
Schaefer also believes that public institution governing boards should be consolidated. That was not incorporated in this bill.
The bill needs another vote before moving to the House.
(Senate Bill 492)
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