A Columbia representative comes on board for the MOHELA bill after he receives assurances that the University of Missouri-Columbia won’t be completely left out of plans for college capital improvements.
Rep. Ed Robb, a Republican from Columbia, found himself at odds with Republican leadership, because of actions taken by Democrats in the Senate. Furious with the Democratic filibuster on the MOHELA bill, Republicans stripped projects from Columbia and Kansas City, including $31.2 million for a new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center on the MU campus. That led Robb to oppose the bill, until he received an agreement from the governor to include that money in a supplemental budget bill next year.
Still, Robb says the governor’s college capital improvement plan suffered when political pressure led to abandonment of life science research and settled with less controversial projects. Robb says the $350 million plan was at its best at the end of last year. He says that plan included life science research, which would spur additional economic development in the state. Pro-Life lobbyists at the Capitol pushed to strip life science funding from the MOHELA initiative, fearing it could finance embryonic stem cell research. Governor Blunt outlines the projects to be funded in his Lewis and Clark Initiative.
The Senate has sent the plan to the House. It would use money generated from the sale of Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority assets to pay for college capital improvements.