Two of the three bills East Central College’s administration hoped would make it to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk failed to do so as Missouri’s legislative session came to a close Friday, May 12.
HB758/SB328, a bill that would have allowed community colleges to award bachelor degrees in some cases, and SB355, which would have given two-year colleges the same highway sign purchasing options as four-year colleges, both died.
ECC President and Missouri Community College Association Chair Dr. Jon Bauer said while he understands the end of a legislative session can be difficult, he was saddened to see the two bills die to political differences.
“When it gets caught up in things that are totally unrelated that’s disappointing,” he said. “I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure everyone who worked on this had to be disappointed that it’s not going to happen — and that it’s not going to happen for reasons totally outside of our work and the issues.”
Bauer said he hopes ECC and the MCCA will continue working toward the policy changes put forth this session, but said these things take time.
“You have to take stock and start looking ahead, so that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “I think policy change is a long-term project. We’ll just have to make a decision on legislative priorities and strategies going forward. I would hope we continue to push this issue.”
ECC did see some success with SB10 being sent to the governor. The bill, if signed, will expand the Missouri Works program by giving more incentives to small businesses and attempts to develop Missouri’s workforce is currently in the House.
The bill could benefit the work being done at East Central. Bauer said, even without the bill, there is a network in place that can further develop Missouri’s workforce. He said the bill would, however, greatly benefit the movement.
SB10 isn’t the only item on the governor’s desk ECC administrators are waiting for word on. House Bill 3, the higher education bill determining state aid for colleges throughout Missouri, also is waiting on Greitens’ signature.
House Bill 3, if unchanged, would reduces ECC’s state aid by nearly 6.5 percent. When Greitens first released his budget, that number was 9 percent.
Bauer said the several House members are to thank for lowering the cuts, but said it’s uncertain what the governor would do with the bill.
The college took steps to offset the proposed budget, that in any case or percentage, will bring ECC closer to a budgetary deficit, according to several reports and projections from the college’s administrative team.
Bauer and his team cut unnecessary spending throughout the school after the budget was announced in January. Eventually, ECC’s board of trustees raised tuition by $5 per credit hour across the board.
That price change was the second raise this academic year, coming on the tail end of a similar tuition raise from the board in October 2016.
The governor has roughly 40 days to sign the budget bill, and SB10, since the bills were passed in the final weeks of the legislative session, as per Missouri law.