Audits Criticize Lobbying for Appropriations

6 years 8 months 4 weeks ago July 28, 2010 Jul 28, 2010 Wednesday, July 28 2010 Wednesday, July 28, 2010 6:19:29 PM CDT in News
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JEFFERSON CITY - State Auditor Susan Montee released two audits Wednesday suggesting change in the way Missouri handles funding for education.

The state audited the Department of Higher Education (MDHE) and found areas where the department was not operating to optimal levels of efficiency.

The state appropriates money to public institutions by having universities and colleges argue how much money they need. Institutions have employed lobbyists to do that job.

But Montee said that lobbyists are a big problem because they pit universities against each other.

"Most of these projects were selected by lobbying and special interest groups so we can't pinpoint why some of these projects made the list at all," said Montee.

The lobbyists also cost the universities money if they seek help through outside firms, like many do.

The University of Missouri System spent the most on lobbying at $920,000.

The state appropriates money to community colleges in a different way that does not involve lobbyists or special interest groups.

Montee suggests a change in the appropriation method for public institutions, but has no specific plan in mind.

KOMU 8 contacted the University of Missouri System for a reaction, but as of late Wednesday had not heard back.

The Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE) governs the MDHE. The audit analyzed the structure's performance, but did not find any reasons to make a structural change.

The second audit looked into the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. The initiative is a $350 million program that funds construction and improvements at public institutions.

The MDHE is supposed to give input on the initiative but had little input in the selection of the projects.

The audit found that out of the projects the MDHE recommended, the project did not include three projects. Six projects also received less than recommended funding.

Nineteen projects included did not have the recommendation of the MDHE at all.

The general assembly must now decide, based on the audit, whether any changes should be made to the way education funds are appropriated and education is structured.

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