An expansion of the student loan agency is approved by the House and sent to Governor Blunt, but not before Democrats once again heap scorn upon the Blunt Administration for orchestrating the sell-off of assets from MOHELA.
MOHELA stands for the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority and for one of the most contentious issues in the legislature. Democrats have soundly criticized Republican approval of the MOHELA asset sell-off, used to pay for college capital improvements. That criticism grew louder when MOHELA disclosed earlier this year that it lost more than $12 million.
Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff) is the House sponsor of SB 967 . He dismisses talk that MOHELA is on the verge of insolvency.
"They (MOHELA) had a pretty good month last month and (they) had a profit," Kingery tells colleagues during House floor debate. He says MOHELA has been able to bring people laid off back to work and says MOHELA right now is in "pretty good shape".
The bill allows MOHELA to originate federal student loans equal to 10% of its volume last year, which would total $200 million. Originating that much in federal loans would gain MOHELA a quick two million dollar profit.
SB 967 contains an emergency clause, making it go into effect upon the governor’s signature. That would allow MOHELA to originate some federal loans for the coming school year.
Rep. Jake Zimmerman, a Democrat from Olivette, agrees it’s an emergency, but contends it is one of the Republican majority’s making.
"Now there’s a shortage of assets," Zimmerman says during House debate, "but let us not forget that the reason we need to do it right away is because of bad decisions by this governor and this (Republican) majority."
The bill goes to the governor.