JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- The Coordinating Board for Higher Education appreciates Governor Matt Blunt’s commitment to Missouri’s postsecondary educational sector as expressed in his State of the State Address on Wednesday evening January 24, 2007.  In commenting on Governor Blunt’s recommendations, Commissioner of Higher Education Robert Stein said, “An investment in higher education is an investment in Missouri’s future.”

Governor Blunt’s recommendation of an increase of $39.5 million (an average of 4.5 percent) for the state’s public colleges and universities continues the governor’s commitment to rebuild an essential resource base for the operating budgets of pubic institutions.  The acknowledgement by the governor to support continued increases to higher education in the immediate years represents a long-term commitment that emphasizes the importance of higher education in producing a competitive workforce.

The governor’s recommendations also include support for a new single-need based financial aid program with increased resources totaling $45 million.  Improving access by making higher educational opportunities more affordable for Missouri’s students with demonstrated financial need is a shared goal of taxpayers, policymakers, educators and the Missouri public.  “Governor Blunt’s leadership is helping make that goal a reality,” said Kathy Swan, Chair of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

To accommodate existing students, and attract new students, it is essential that educational institutions have quality facilities.  The commitment of the Governor to also work through the legislature to provide $335 million in capital projects with the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative and an additional $11.2 million for additional projects at higher education institutions that will address a long-standing need for renovation and new construction on our state’s campuses.

With competing state interests for the limited new resources available, the Coordinating Board is especially appreciative that the governor was able to identify new resources to higher education across three separate but important needs.  In turn, the Coordinating Board and the Department of Higher Education are committed to meeting the challenge of working with institutional presidents and chancellors, members of the General Assembly and the Governor in designing a performance reporting system (accountability) that demonstrates the value of higher education to the Missouri public.

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