Boone County legislators discuss education during forum at Harpo's

Thursday, January 30, 2014 | 9:34 p.m. CST; updated 10:05 a.m. CST, Friday, January 31, 2014

COLUMBIA — Before bar-goers packed into Harpo's Bar & Grill for drinks and live music, state legislators from Boone County met with residents Thursday for the 12th annual Boone County Legislative Forum.

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia; Reps. Caleb Jones and Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia; and Reps. John Wright and Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, spoke with residents almost entirely about education.

Rowden told attendees they could make fun of Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, because he wasn't there. He was the only Boone County legislator that didn't attend.

Schaefer cautioned that some of the education funding Gov. Jay Nixon had laid out in his Jan. 21 State of the State address might not materialize. The governor's revenue projections were unrealistic, he said. 

Jones talked about a joint resolution he sponsored along with the other legislators from Boone County. The resolution would allow the General Assembly to issue bonds to fund improvements in higher education, such as building new facilities.

The forum is "an opportunity to talk one-on-one with folks," Jones said. "We don’t normally get the opportunity to sit across the table from somebody and listen to their concerns."

Missouri Student Association President Mason Schara said it was a nice opportunity to meet with legislators in an informal setting.

"I think the legislators getting to see students in a normal setting, not on campus, is good because they get to see us as normal people," he said. "We’re mature adults that should be treated seriously."

Wally Pfeffer, the coordinator of the event, said this was the best-attended forum he'd seen in about nine years.

Pfeffer said the forum was organized when then-Gov. Bob Holden put a hold on funding for the UM System. Since then, the forum has traditionally centered on higher education.

The Mizzou Alumni Association's Boone County Chapter and the Mizzou Legislative Network Committee organized the forum.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.


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