• Senator Scott Sifton Speaks to MOPAN, Discusses Issues Facing Our Region

    Sep 14, 2016

    The St. Louis Regional Chamber held a Missouri Public Affairs Network meeting on September 9th. Attendees heard from Missouri State Senator Scott Sifton (D-1st) on a variety of issues including transportation funding, education, and the past legislative session.

    Senator Sifton stated that he believes some good work has been done during his time in legislature, but that “we haven’t done everything that we need to do” including Medicaid expansion, transportation funding, and education issues.

    The Senator highlighted the importance of improving our transportation and infrastructure system as state funding has decreased over the years. The Senator said that “our home grown industries need to have every competitive advantage they can” and a well built and maintained infrastructure is very important to that. He highlighted the defeat of SJR 39 as an example of maintaining these competitive advantages, noting that we are in a global competition for talent and need to keep our home-grown workers here. The Senator also praised the passage of SB 5, which reforms the municipal court system and limits the amount of money that municipalities can collect from traffic violations. 

    The biggest issue facing the Senators’ school districts is the Missouri school transfer law. He believes that this law was not intended to be implemented, and that any district that loses its accreditation status will be in danger of bankruptcy. He said that “we need to do what we can to lift unaccredited school districts to where they need to be” and noted that two bills on this issue were sent to the Governor, but both were vetoed. Senator Sifton also briefly discussed the challenges facing education funding in the state. 

    The biggest issue facing the Senators’ school districts is the Missouri school transfer law. He believes that this law was not intended to be implemented, and that any district that loses its accreditation status will be in danger of bankruptcy. He said that “we need to do what we can to lift unaccredited school districts to where they need to be” and noted that two bills on this issue were sent to the Governor, but both were vetoed. Senator Sifton also briefly discussed the challenges facing education funding in the state. 

    Senator Sifton speaking to MOPAN attendees
     Senator Sifton speaking to Missouri Public Affairs Network members
  • Illinois Public Affairs Network Discusses Funding Challenges in Higher Education

    Jul 28, 2016

    Leaders in higher education in Southwest Illinois spoke to a full room of Illinois Public Affairs Network members on Friday, July 15th at the Doubletree Hotel in Collinsville. Dr. Randy Dunn, President of the Southern Illinois University System, and Ken Scheffel, Vice President of Enrollment Services at Lewis and Clark Community College spoke to the budget challenges higher education institutions in Illinois are facing.  Sen. Dave Luechtefeld spoke to higher education funding from the legislature’s perspective and provided a legislative update.

    Kent Scheffel spoke to the impact of delayed and reduced funding from the state on Lewis and Clark Community College.  He cited a number of examples, including reducing the number of adjunct faculty by more than 30, which in turn reduced more than 60 class offerings and creates challenges for students.  Adult education classes have been cut, as has travel and supply budgets, and the school is in a semi-hiring freeze.

    Dr. Randy Dunn echoed many of the sentiments shared by Kent, and spoke to three major ways they are impacted, through dismantling, disinvestment, and disinterest.  He noted that the funding cuts and delays have led to a dismantling of their organizational infrastructure, disinvestment in the schools and in the communities they serve, and disinterest from students.  Both speakers noted that it was tough to watch the migration of students from Illinois to other states.  MAP grant applications are down by 18,000 and SIUE growth will slow next year, both indications of Illinois students going to colleges and universities in other states.

    Senator Luechtefeld gave some context, that higher education has faced significant cuts over the last three governors’ administrations.  It made it tough for them to be cut repeatedly, then hit with a budget crisis and state higher education institutions don’t have any spare resources to deal with it.

    Dr. Randy Dunn, President of the Southern Illinois University System speaks to the July IPAN meeting as fellow panelist Kent Scheffel of Lewis and Clark Community College looks on
    Dr. Randy Dunn, President of the Southern Illinois University System speaks to the July IPAN meeting as fellow panelist Kent Scheffel of Lewis and Clark Community College looks on.