Incoming auditor to examine MOHELA

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:28 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Incoming State Auditor Susan Montee said Tuesday that one of her first acts next year will be an audit of the state’s student loan authority.

Montee says that quasi-governmental groups such as the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority don’t have enough oversight and that legislators need to know what they’re dealing with.

“We’re going to work as quickly as we can to get information to them,” Montee said, while noting that she and legislators take office early next year.

In January, Gov. Matt Blunt proposed selling MOHELA entirely, then agreed with a plan to sell some MOHELA assets and direct proceeds to college construction projects. The plan failed in the General Assembly.

Under Blunt’s latest proposal, MOHELA would pay $350 million — generated from existing profits and the sale of billions of dollars worth of student loans — over six years to the Missouri Development Finance Board. That panel would disperse $335 million to campus projects and $15 million to the Missouri Technology Corp., which recruits high-tech businesses and helps spin off university research into commercial products.

Montee raised particular concerns Tuesday about the more than $830,000 severance package given to Michael Cummins, who was fired in January after expressing reservations about Blunt’s plant to sell MOHELA.

The agreement provides that Cummins will continue receiving his $13,461.54 salary every two weeks through October 2007. He’s also being paid for vacation and sick time and getting a lump sum pension benefit and continued health insurance coverage through July 2007, among other things.

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