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By a vote of 110 to 45, the Missouri House gave overwhelming support to a spending plan for the proceeds from the proposed, partial sale of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority or MOHELA. MOHELA is the quasi-governmental agency that underwrites student loans. KSMU's Missy Shelton files this reports from Jefferson City.
That was the message that some democrats had when the House took up legislation that appropriates anticipated revenue from the proposed sale of some MOHELA assets.
Democrat Paul LeVota represents portions of Jackson County and is the assistant minority floor leader.
LeVota and other critics say they can't support the sale of some MOHELA assets when there hasn't been a study of the potential impact of the sale.
The bill proposes spending the money on scholarships and capitol improvement projects at four-year universities and community colleges around the state.
The bill sponsor is House Budget Chairman Allen Icet, a Republican from St Louis County.
He says his legislation will provide much needed dollars to scholarship funds.
During debate Monday, some lawmakers raised questions about the legality of the MOHELA board selling some assets and giving the proceeds to the state.
Democrat Wes Shoemyer's district includes portions of North Central Missouri.
But the bill sponsor, Republican Representative Allen Icet says the MOHELA board does have the legal authority to sell MOHELA assets and donate the funds to the state.
The original proposal for spending proceeds from the sale of MOHELA came from Republican Governor Matt Blunt.
That plan did not include funding for community colleges.
But the House plan gives these institutions about 24 million dollars.
Even so, Democratic Representative Trent Skaggs of Kansas City says that's not enough considering that many of MOHELA's loans come from community college students.
Supporters of the plan that has preliminary House support say there's no way to give MOHELA money to institutions based on how many of their students have MOHELA loans.
Republican Representative Allen Icet.
The proposal that gained first round approval in the House Monday is one of four plans for spending MOHELA proceeds that have been introduced since the beginning of the legislative session.