Thursday, October 19, 2006

Governor Blunt, JR and the MOHELA Scandal

We need to send a few Democrats to Jefferson City to help reign in this junior idiot.

With all the noise about the November election, this story has not been given the attention it deserves.

Fired Up Missouri has a reference to the 10/15/06 article in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

From Tony Messenger at the News-Leader, reader pf has this comment:

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:04 pm Post subject: MOHELA

This whole thing started with the Governor attempting to push through the MOHELA sale without an open meeting, using phone calls to set up a vote to sell the assets off (purportedly to Sallie Mae, one of the most profitable companies in the U.S.). Someone on Blunt's staff (or maybe Blunt was approached by Sallie Mae) estimated the loan portfolio was worth approx $350 million. That is, it would be worth that to Sallie Mae, who would finance the deal based on the increased income they could reap on future loans to Missouri students in need from not having to compete in this market with MOHELA.

Attorney General Jay Nixon, who was one of the original sponsors of the MOHELA bill back in the '80's, threatened to sue based on the Open Meetings act. Mike Cummins, the chair of the MOHELA board, and who opposed the sale, was removed from the board. Terry Ganey's article says more about this (see Tony's link). Terry and the Trib have done a great job of following this story.

$350 million for new construction is great, but this money is not coming out of thin air. It belongs, by legislation, to the people of the State of Missouri. If we want to dissolve or sell MOHELA and build buildings with it, that's up to us. But Governor Blunt's approach reveals that he believes he can do with this money as he sees fit, as if it were his own money. It is NOT. That money was placed there BY STUDENTS IN NEED THAT GOT A LOAN, GOT A DEGREE, GOT A JOB, AND PAID THEIR LOANS OFF.

Furthermore, with tuition to all Missouri state universities increasing faster than inflation (the result of the failure of the State Legislature to provide funding in lieu of the loss of Federal funds) MOHELA represents the EXACT remedy that we most need right now. Even though we're 47th out of 50 states in spending for higher education, at least we can say we have MOHELA, which is one of the largest, best, and lowest-cost sources of loans in the US, and the envy of many other States.

Governor Blunt wants this to be the man who "provided X millions to higher education" in the next election. But he's giving away OUR money. And it shoudl be our (i.e., the Legislature's) decision to do what we want with it. The Governor's now making the state turn administrative backflips just to bypass the State Leglislature, and Jay Nixon is threatening yet another lawsuit.

I suggest that all Springfieldians do the following:

1. Get up to date on this issue. Educate yourself about how the Governor is trying to sell MOHELA. Ask yourself WHY he's so interested in selling MOHELA.

2. Write your State Representative and let them know how you feel about this. Ed Robb, Judy Baker, and other representatives from Columbia are loath to oppose the Governor's plan, because it means money for the University of Missouri, money whose source seems invisible, but which is actually coming out of the pockets of STUDENTS IN NEED. By the legislation that established MOHELA, this is NOT a legal use of these funds. And I don't like STUDENTS IN NEED being used to fund construction at the University of Missouri.

3. Write Jay Nixon and tell him "thanks" for looking out for your interests. No, I'm not a Democrat, I'm not campaigning for Jay Nixon. I just appreciate what he's doing here. If he's doing this just to get elected Governor, I say that's Democracy in action.


No comments: