Governor Blunt is threatening Democratic lawmakers with loss of higher education projects in their districts if they don’t help Republicans pass the MOHELA bill.

At least six higher education building projects that would be financed with money from the sale of MOHELA assets are in Democratic senate districts. Governor Blunt and Republican legislative leaders cannot get enough votes out of their own majority party to pass the bill the Governor wants. “Unless more Democrat members of the Senate support the projects, the list will change,” says Blunt.

Some Republicans won’t support the list because Missouri Right to Life says they should not.  Some Democrats won’t support it because of the influence Missouri Right to Life has had on limiting research that would be allowed in some of the buildings.

House minority leader Jeff Harris of Columbia says it won’t be the fault of Democrats if the plan fails.  “I think a strong Governor exercises strong leadership and….gets his own folks in line,” says Harris.

Blunt sidesteps questions about whether he will eliminate projects in Republican districts if those Senators don’t toe the line. 

Further clouding the issue is an e-mail from a financial consulting firm that pushed the plan.  The message says changes suggested by President Bush’s student loan proposals and other changes that might come from legislation in the United States House might mean the original sales recommendation is “no longer valid.”  The message from Liscarnen Solutions of McLean, Virginia says the impact of possible changes to the federal Higher Education Act might not be known until March or April.  Liscarnen has advised the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority “not to take any further financial actions” related to the sale of assets and the financing of college buildings until Congress has acted on the bill and the effects of that action can be assessed.    

The legislative session ends in mid-May. 

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