Missouri’s poverty rate has increased twenty one percent in the last ten years. Bill Wise reports.
A bill that seeks to promote awareness and research on mental illness among medical students has cleared the state House.
The bill would create a panel that would review medical education in Missouri and have the authority to launch a study on depressoin and suicide among medical students.
Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) spoke about her own suicide attempt last year and urged support for the bill.
“All of you told me by your cards and your phone calls … that it was okay and that you accepted me,” Montecillo told her fellow lawmakers, “so we all need to go forward. We need to embrace this legislation.”
House sponsor Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) said medical students fear seeking help for depression and suicidal thoughts because they think it could hurt their careers. He said there are more than 400 documented suicides among doctors per year.
“When you’re in this kind of a state, you’re not thinking clearly, and you really need help. Physicians are uniquely unable, really, to ask for help because it is a red flag of their further progress of their careers,” said Frederick.
Frederick said medical students are prone to depression often due to debt, lack of sleep, and pushing themselves to meet and exceed expectations.
The bill has been sent to the Senate.
The auditor’s office is looking at the affordability of colleges that get state funding. Bill Wise reports.
The state auditor has expanded her review of the state’s colleges and universities.
Last year Nicole Galloway’s office launched a review of the Department of Higher Education and of the state’s performance-based funding for higher education, and those continue. Now it’s looking at the affordability of all universities that get state funding, and of the administration of the University of Missouri system.
“So that’s four audits related to higher education in Missouri, because our public colleges and universities must be transparent and accountable to Missouri families,” said Galloway. “It’s an investment that students make in themselves and I value that. It helps our economy. It’s an investment that families make. It’s an investment that we, as taxpayers, make.”
The audit of college affordability will study compliance with a state law that limits tuition increases based on tuition. Galloway said taking a broad look across all state-backed institutions will offer better perspective at how they are following that law.
“I think that we’ll be able to see some comparables across the state. We’ll be able to see how governing boards are making decisions that effect how students and taxpayers are paying for higher education,” said Galloway.
The audit of the administration of the University of Missouri System will review spending and policies as administered by the UM System President and the Board of Curators. Some state lawmakers had been calling for a thorough audit of the MU System, but Galloway says this is the right place to be looking now.
“We’re starting at the top. How decisions are made at the top effect students across the entire state, so that’s where our audit starts,” said Galloway.
In 2005, Missouri had nearly 750,000 people living in poverty. The 2016 “State of the State: Poverty in Missouri” report released by the Missourians to End Poverty Coalition, says more than 900,000 residents are living in poverty today.
The state’s poverty rate has declined, but Executive Director Heather Lockard says not enough.
“The poverty rate in Missouri has declined slightly in the past two years, but if you look at the last ten years, the poverty rate in Missouri has risen by 21%,” said Lockard.
The report says Missouri is ranked 22nd in the U.S. for the number of people living in poverty.
Former Senator Pat Dougherty wants state lawmakers to help Missouri’s poor.
“We each want to be the best that we can be. To date, the public policies of this state have not risen to that particular challenge. Those who are poor in our state are all too often stigmatized. Our brothers and sisters are hurting,” said Dougherty.
“We want from this (report), concrete actions and policies that address the fundamental underlying parts of poverty. We don’t want words or actions that demean the poor, ignore their plight and increase the burdens on their backs,” said Dougherty.
The report says the leading factor pushing people into poverty is medical expenses.
Missouri counties with the highest poverty rates are Mississippi (32.2%), Dunklin (29.8%) and Pemiscot (28.7%).