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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Higher education funding

Posted Wednesday, October 30, 2013, at 1:27 PM

In my time in the Senate, I have maintained that education is one of my highest priorities. I have had many opportunities to explore various aspects of all levels of education, including chairing the Educated Citizenry 2020 Committee during my first term in the Senate. It was during presentations and research for that committee that my colleagues and I determined that one of the benchmarks of an educated population would be that 60 percent of all working age Missourians would possess a college degree by the year 2020.

But to reach that goal we need to make college more affordable. Many public higher education institutions are feeling the pressure of lower-than-expected funding, meaning tough decisions had to be made in order to continue to operate.

Recently, the governor spoke to higher education officials and announced his intention to see all levels of education fully funded by 2016. I applaud this announcement and believe that an educated population will do more to enhance Missouri's place in the global economy and drive the job market in the Show-Me State compared to other short-term concepts.

One such stride made by the legislature this year was Senate Bill 381. Creating innovation campuses, SB 381 allows high school students to work in conjunction with local higher education institutions and businesses to focus on a particular career path, meaning those students will be able to advance more quickly through their studies, graduate from college earlier with less debt and enter the work force sooner. This is already in place at the University of Central Missouri in conjunction with Metropolitan Community Colleges and local school districts.

Finding funding for higher education won't be a simple matter. The idea of performance-based funding is still very much alive and utilized by some 30 states in our country and puts the levels of funding in the hands of individual schools, not legislators. We will continue to move forward with discussions regarding performance-based funding for our public higher education schools.

It was an honor to recently serve on the Missouri delegation to the Complete College of America Conference. We explored ways to get students through higher education institutions quicker, therefore, reducing student debt and the likelihood of dropping out of school. I was joined by Rep. Mike Thomson, Department of Higher Education Commissioner David Russell, Senior Policy Advisor Mike Nietzel, and Executive Director of the Council on Public Higher Education Paul Wagner. During this national conference, Rep. Thompson and I addressed the delegation about the important steps we've already taken in Missouri to ensure our students achieve a degree and graduate in a timely fashion.

These are a few examples we have made toward making college more accessible and affordable. I look forward to hearing the governor's plan to fully fund higher education before his final term is complete. In today's world, Missourians need to know there is a plan to take education to the next level in order to provide the stability and growth we deserve as a state.



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Senator David Pearce, a Republican, represents District 21 in the Missouri Senate, which covers Caldwell, Carroll, Howard, Johnson, Lafayette, Livingston, Ray and Saline counties. Due to redistricting, he was elected to serve the 21st District in 2012, after serving a previous term in the Missouri Senate representing District 31 in November 2008 after completing three, two-year terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. Pearce serves as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, chairman of the Joint Committee on Education, and was chairman of the Educated Citizenry 2020 Committee. Pearce was appointed to serve on the Missouri Veterans Commission in August 2009 and continues to serve in that capacity. He was also reappointed to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact in September 2010, and was honored to serve again as an Executive Committee member. In addition, Pearce serves as a member of several Senate Committees: Appropriations; Financial and Governmental Organizations and Elections; and Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources. Capitol Office: 201 W Capitol Ave., Rm. 227 Jefferson City, Missouri 65101 (573) 751-2272 FAX: (573) 526-7381