September 19, 2014

State lawmakers consider higher education funding formula proposal

A state legislative panel has gotten its first look at a proposal for a funding formula for the state’s colleges and universities.

The Joint Education Committee took testimony on a formula for higher education funding in hearings this summer and fall around the state.

Under the plan laid out for the Joint Committee on Education, the state would provide 35 percent of an institution’s operating costs. 90 percent of that would be automatic and 10 percent would be tied to whether it meets performance goals.

Committee staff executive director Stacey Preis says each of the state’s institution would have five measures to meet.

“The community colleges agree to sector goals such as three-year completion rate for first-time, full-time students. This includes degree or certificate completion or transfer to a four-year institution. Linn State Technical College includes things like job placement and improvements on professional and occupational licensure tests. The four-year institutions have opted shared goals that included freshman to sophomore retention or the successful completion of 24 credit hours in the first year for first time, full-time students.”

See the proposal for a foundation formula for higher education (pdf).

Committee chairman, Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) says this formula will be different from the one in place for elementary and secondary education.

“Obviously when you have a formula for K-12 you’re looking at local support, those communities that have some local support, those that have none. So for public education what you’re trying to do for our K-12 institutions are to make them equitable so they can have the same education no matter where they are. For higher education we have different missions, we have different selectivity, we have different locations … so it’s a totally different thing.”

Pearce says it’s time to put a formula in place.

“Quite honestly we’ve just kind of limped along year after year after year when it comes to funding with no thought for performance, and so what this is, is a way to institute some performance standards of what we want to evaluate our colleges for.”

Pearce has asked higher education officials and others to comment on the formula proposal through the end of the month.

The committee must develop a formula by the end of 2013 that can be implemented in time for fiscal year 2015 appropriations.