The state senate has passed the Governor’s MOHELA bill….but not before outnumbered opponents had one more chance to unload.
Sponsor Gary Nodler of Joplin points to numerous reforms to higher education and says the bill represents "one of the broadest reforms in higher education" in Missouri’s history. But opponents go after the way the reforms will be financed–through the sale of some assets of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.
Senator Rita Days of St. Louis does not share Nodler’s enthusiasm, calling the bill "ill conceived," and "morally reprehensible. Another opponent, Joan Bray of St. Louis says it is the "most appalling" piece of legislation she has ever seen. She has been a member of the legislature for 15 years. And, in fact, she says the bill has become a porkfest, loaded with projects added to get votes.
Nodler thinks the bill’s impact will be long-lived. He says it represents a commitment to higher education’s future but Columbia Senator Chuck Graham calls the bill "a piece of crap" that has brought out the worst side of the senate. Governor Blunt and Senate Republicans have killed funding for a big cancer research center in Columbia because of Graham’s strong opposition to the bill.
Supporters in the House hope they can pass the bill without making changes which would send the bill back to the Senate and another fierce fight.
The bill was approved 23-11. However an emergency clause that would let it go into effect as soon as the Governor signs it failed to get the necessary two-thirds support, failing 20-14.
(The attached sound file is the final debate on the bill. You’ll hear the voices of Nodler, Days, Bray, Senator Harry Kennedy of St.Louis, and Graham. Senator Steve Rupp is in the chair)
The bill is SS6/SCS/SB389