Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege spoke at the Capitol on Feb. 5.
He spoke to the House Appropriations Committee on Infrastructure and Job Creation, which was created by Minority Caucus Vice Chairman, Rep. Chris Kelly, R-District 24.
The committee was created specifically to address House Joint Resolution 14, a bill that would authorize the state of Missouri to borrow about $900 million for anything laid out in the text of the bill, said Ben Levin, MSA senator and executive cabinet adviser.
“What that means is that this $900 million is going to be apportioned in a certain way,” Levin said. “Part of it will go to roads, part of it might go to mental health and part of it will go to fixing state buildings, of which this university is a place that will probably receive much of those funds.”
Droege said he spoke to the committee because some facilities on campus are borderline dangerous, and the costs of repair grow every year.
“Especially in my role, I am representing 34,000 students at the University of Missouri, and I think lending my support to House Joint Resolution 14 emphasizes the crucial role that quality classrooms have in gaining a quality education,” Droege said. “For instance, Mizzou students can’t hope to be competitive working in a buildings with leaking roofs and Cold War-era equipment.”
Levin said they are looking for as much of the money as possible from the bond to go toward capital improvements on campus and catching up to the school’s deferred maintenance cost. The state would have to repay the bond, not the university. Because of its Triple A credit rating, the state has historically low interest rates right now, Levin said.
“The basic fact of the matter is that this state can, right now, borrow money very, very cheaply,” Levin said. “Money is very cheap. We look around and the economy is recovering, and this is a perfect time for us to try to make a dent in all of these buildings that are in such desperate need of maintenance.”
Levin said Droege spoke representing the undergraduate student body. Abigail Thomas, the Associated Students of the University of Missouri’s Legislative Director, also spoke, representing the system.
“Something, Chris Kelly says a lot is that this is the whole ball game,” Levin said. “There is no chance of new revenue. There is no chance that these buildings will just stop breaking down . . . this is our only shot.”