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Proposed Mo. higher ed formula would need $388M

Chris Blank, Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A Missouri education committee estimated Monday it would take about $388 million more to fully fund a proposed formula for distributing state aid to colleges and universities.

The Joint Committee on Education is working to develop a higher education funding formula that is similar to what exists for public school districts. Missouri's current approach has been to distribute money based largely upon how much the college or university has received in past years and what state government has available.

Officials released an analysis Monday calculating how the proposed formula would affect individual schools. The committee is accepting comments until Feb. 11 and plans to release a final report Feb. 15. State law gives the committee until the end of this year to develop a funding model.

Under the most recent draft, the funding formula would call for an increase in state money for all but one school. For example, the current year's state budget calls for the four-campus University of Missouri system to receive $398 million, which is $166 million less than what the target would be in the proposed formula. On the other hand, Lincoln University in Jefferson City now is getting about $17.5 million, which is $265,000 more than what the formula's target would be.

In addition, the committee's proposal calls for basing 10 percent of the state's funding upon whether each institution meets performance goals.

Sen. David Pearce, the chairman of the joint committee, said Missouri should hold colleges and universities accountable and reward them when they do well.

He said higher education has been underfunded in Missouri and that making it up likely will not happen immediately. Still, he said it is important to have funding targets.

"It will never happen if we don't start working toward it," said Pearce, R-Warrensburg.

Last year, the Coordinating Board for Higher Education recommended Missouri provide a $25.5 million pool of money for performance-based funding in the 2014 budget year that begins July 1. Each institution would get as much as a 3 percent funding increase if it achieves all of its performance measurements, with a 0.6 percent reduction in that funding hike for each goal an institution fails to meet.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon is recommending a $34 million boost for higher education. The additional funding would be based upon meeting performance measures and means some colleges could get as much as a 5.4 percent increase while others could get a 2.2 percent increase. Nixon defended his approach Wednesday.

"I think that the cooperative, collaborative method that we've been able to put together over the last two years will get more impact for students, will be embraced and I think is the right policy," he said.