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Floyd: Beef up coordinating board

Legislators brought up the possibility of a super education board to centralize control.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:54 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — University of Missouri System President Elson Floyd wants state lawmakers to drop out of the classroom.

Appearing before a government reorganization task force assembled by Gov. Matt Blunt, Floyd argued for boosting the role of the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education and taking power away from the General Assembly.

When committee members prodded Floyd about the possibility of creating a super education board that would centralize control in Jefferson City, he said he favored strengthening the current system by beefing up the coordinating board, which brings together regional university leaders.

“It is important to centralize,” Floyd said. “The structure, I think is open to debate.”

Floyd joined members of the Missouri State Government Review Commission Task Force in complaining that the coordinating board is weak. He said the work it should be doing is now caught up in the politics of the legislature.

“If the General Assembly is serving in the coordinating function, then the coordinating board is unnecessary,” Floyd said. “I don’t think that’s good public policy.”

The task force was hand-picked by the Blunt administration and charged with making recommendations for big changes in the structure of state government. At Monday’s round of hearings, it heard testimony from social services departments and state administrators at all levels of education.

Throughout the push for deep cuts to Missouri’s Medicaid program, Blunt and other Republicans described the state’s health-care system as wasteful, bloated and heavily abused. But the program’s director, a recent Blunt appointee, told the committee otherwise.

“It’s an awesome group of people that have been running Medicaid,” said Mike Ditmore, a Columbia Republican who lost to Democrat Chuck Graham in the race for 19th District state senator in November. “I think they do an excellent job.”

Few details were discussed at the hearings, but task force Chairman Stephen Bradford hinted that state secretaries’ jobs might be in jeopardy.

“With computer technology, I think most people can handle their own letters,” Bradford said. “I’m wondering what a clerical person does for an upper-management person. I think we could make some significant savings in those areas.”

Elsewhere in the Capitol on Monday:

  • The Senate gave first-round approval to two bills. The first provides a 50 percent income tax credit for donations given to a certified residential treatment agency, such as a drug treatment center. This credit would also extend to those who make private homes accessible to people who use wheelchairs. The second provides that immunizations be free of mercury when administered to children younger than 3 and to pregnant women. An amendment allows any adult to ask for a mercury-free shot.
  • The governor’s office announced that Blunt had signed on Saturday a bill authorizing the appropriation of an additional $217.5 million for this year’s budget. The measure includes additional money for social services, including Medicaid and the First Steps program that Blunt seeks to cut in next year’s budget. The Missouri State Highway Patrol will also receive $500,000 to analyze felons’ DNA.

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