Boone County Lawmakers Explain MOHELA

1 decade 2 years 5 months ago Thursday, February 16 2006 Feb 16, 2006 Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:11:22 PM CST February 16, 2006 in News

Boone County's state legislators are in complete support of a plan to liquidate all, or part of MOHELA's assets. Columbia legislators met with local business leaders Thursday at an open forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.

Boone County Sen. Chuck Graham could not attend the forum because of health problems, but his Chief of Staff was there in his place.

The potential MOHELA sale has developed into a complicated issue leaving many Missourians confused about the details. At the forum, Boone County Legislators tried to help constituents understand the issues at hand.

"Because of the three different plans in three different weeks, I think there's a lot of confusion and no one knows how to go forward. I'm hoping we get through that confusion and find a way forward," said Rep. Judy Baker.

The legislators agree that a sale of all or part of MOHELA's assets would be good for the state and for Boone County. If the sale goes through, as much as $90 million could be allocated to build a new health sciences building at the MU Medical School. The health sciences building would house research projects exploring treatments for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Several business leaders call this a smart investment in the state's future.

Still, there is concern that selling all, or even part, of MOHELA could place a larger financial burden on students wanting higher education.

"I think that's a concern that people have raised, but I think if you examine the data I don't believe that you can make the case that the sale of MOHELA, or a portion of MOHELA's assets, is going to negatively impact people's ability or students' ability to get loans. I just don't believe that's the case," said former Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Mike Vangel.

Legislators are clear they support any plan that will bring $90 million to Columbia.

Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing the MOHELA board for illegally closing it's meetings. All the debate over the sale will be on hold until the lawsuit is resolved.

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