Gov. Nixon releases performance funding model for higher education

Governor Jay Nixon has created a plan to fund higher education based on goals created by the universities themselves.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced his newest education plan Aug. 25, proposing a performance-funding model for higher education. The model will fund higher education, but only if colleges and universities meet the goals they each set for themselves.

Nixon said this is his next step for higher education, following up last year's “Training for Tomorrow” and “Caring for Missourians” programs, which created certification programs in high-demand fields for Missouri college students.

"Moving forward, we must now fix the funding model for higher education, to make it less crisis-driven and more predictable from year-to-year," Nixon stated in a news release.

“Gov. Nixon wants to increase the amount of students in Missouri that will have college degrees,” said Nikki Krawitz, UM System vice president for finance and administration.

Krawitz was appointed to Nixon’s new task force to create the performance funding model plan. The task force also includes four community college representatives, four four-year university representatives, a representative from Linn Technical College, two state legislators and a policy adviser.

“If a campus meets its goals, whatever those goals are, then they will get the funding,” Krawitz said. “If there are four goals and you meet three, then you will get 75 percent of the funding.”

Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, who also attends the MU School of Law, said he doesn’t understand the idea behind the model.

“As a general rule, I don’t understand the policy that if you’re not doing well we’re going to take your resources away,” he said. “So how are we supposed to improve?”

Webber said he thinks the problem with funding for higher education has nothing to do with the internal policies developed but the lack of resources needed to fund education.

“We have had to raise the tuition at Mizzou,” Webber said. “We’ve raised the tuition as a result of funding shortages. Unless we put more money into education on all levels, we’re not going to improve access no matter what internal policies we develop.”

Nixon's model has a couple years before it would go into effect, with the goals for each school being determined in fiscal year 2013.

“Starting the next year, increases in state appropriations for higher education institutions would (be) apportioned to each institution based on the number of performance goals it meets,” the governor’s spokesman Scott Holste said in an email.

Krawitz said the measures used to evaluate two- and four-year institutions will be different under Nixon's plan.

“Four-year institutions will be given time to obtain a degree over six years," Krawitz said. "Community colleges might look at certificate completions, while the universities might want to look at degree completions, since there are different endpoints.”

Krawitz said students who graduate college will be beneficial to the state and, by extension, society as a whole.

“I can tell you that he (Nixon) would like to see more degrees granted,” Krawitz said. “That’s an area he is interested in. He wants to meet workforce needs, graduate more students, and improve retention to graduation.”

College and university presidents and chancellors were present when Nixon presented his plan at his Governor’s Summit on Higher Education last week.

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