The State Senate will begin what could be a contentious and long debate this week on Senate Bill 389 , the Governor’s plan to finance construction at colleges and universities. 

The Governor’s Lewis & Clark Initiative sounded so simple at first – sell the assets of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) – and use the money for higher education buildings.  But the wisdom of that idea is under serious question.

The plan has become ensnarled in issues of academic freedom, stem cell research, unwarranted delegation of legislation appropriations power, Republican versus Democrat, urban versus rural, debt versus no debt.

Senate Democratic leader Maida Coleman threatens a filibuster if her party’s alternative plan is not given enough attention.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Gary Nodler of Joplin, says the Democrat plan for a bond issue won’t fly, and he does not mind a long debate.  He says he’s just looking for 18 votes.  That’s how many it takes for a bill to pass the Senate.  Nodler says he does not know if he has 18 votes.  

Download/Listen: Bob Priddy’s report on MOHELA showdown (:60 MP3)