Blunt signs MOHELA bill into law

Thursday, May 24, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:58 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation into law Wednesday financing college buildings with student loan agency money as he began a three-day tour to communities that will reap the rewards.

The legislation will take $350 million over six years from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to finance dozens of building projects for public colleges and universities. It also will create a new college scholarship program for students in financial need and place limits on university tuition increases.

Critics claimed the legislation sets a bad precedent, encouraging politicians to raid student loan agency funds for favored projects at the potential expense of low-cost student loans in the future.

The Republican-led House sent the GOP governor his higher education package earlier this month on a largely party-line 91-64 vote. The Senate passed the bill last month, 23-11.

At a packed news conference at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, school officials and legislators praised Blunt for the law.

Blunt said it will provide $335 million for state-of-the-art learning centers. The other $15 million in MOHELA money will go to the Missouri Technology Corp., which encourages the growth of research-based businesses.

UMSL will receive $28.5 million, the full funding requested, to improve Benton and Stadler Halls, school officials said.

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