State Rep. Chris Kelly said today that there may be enough political support to extend funding for the Caring for Missourians program next year.
That seems to take the edge off of House Budget Chairman Allen Icet’s declaration that funding for the program was meant as a one-time expenditure and that higher education institutions shouldn’t expect additional money. Both Icet, R-Wildwood, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder arranged a conference call yesterday raising alarm about the implementation of the program.
“The votes were there and I think that the votes will be there next year too,” Kelly said. “I like Allen and I don’t like to disagree with him. But you know, I believe there’s widespread support from both sides of the aisle for that program. And I believe it will get funded again next year.”
Under the current budget structure, colleges and universities are set to get roughly $40 million worth of federal stimulus money for one-time priorities. But there is an inference that the money could go toward the Caring for Missourians program, an initiative meant to pump out more health care professionals from colleges and universities.
I have asked both Kelly and Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico, whether the program could garner consistent funding, especially when health care-related degrees require a multi-year commitment.
“I think we see said ‘well, we’ll take each year one at a time,’” Kelly said. “And we’ll take Caring for Missourians next year along with everything else.”
“The nature of the Democratic compromise proposal is that we got the money and he got to characterize the money,” Kelly added. “And he characterized it as money for anything that [the universities] wanted and that it would be one-time. We don’t know the answer to that question yet. So I think it’s too early to forecast that it won’t be there next year. The only reason it was in this year was because the votes are there.”
Gov. Jay Nixon has already embarked on a tour of the state promoting the program, stating in a press release that Caring for Missourians “will help us train the next generation of medical professionals to meet the health care needs of tomorrow, while also helping turn our economy around today.”