February 3, 2006
St. Joseph, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon today said his office will hold a series of hearings around the state to develop a public record on the proposed sale of assets by the non-profit Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), and the subsequent transfer of $450 million in sale proceeds to state government. MOHELA was created by the Missouri General Assembly in 1981 for the purpose of making low-interest loans available to all of Missouri’s students.
"Many people have questions about this proposed sale and how the proceeds would be used, because the purpose of MOHELA is to make higher education more accessible and affordable for all Missouri students," Nixon said. "Those questions are coming not only from students and their parents, but also from a bipartisan group of legislators who have expressed concerns about the proposal’s legal uncertainties.
"There has been a troubling lack of transparency in what has been presented to the public to date, and the lack of openness has only led to more questions," Nixon said. "The public really needs to see what is taking place."
The Attorney General acts as steward for non-profit assets in the state. Nixon said his review would focus on ensuring that any sale would be as a result of a fair and open process, that a fair price was received for the assets, and that proceeds from the sale would be used appropriately and to further MOHELA’s mission.
"These three Ps — process, price and proceeds — are the guiding principles of the sale for any non-profit assets, and public hearings are an important part of that," Nixon said. "We held hearings that were well-attended and highly useful, for example, in the $1 billion sale of the Health Midwest system in Kansas City and in the $350 million sale of the hospital at St. Louis University."
Details on the hearings are expected to be announced in the next few weeks. When the hearing dates and locations are announced, Nixon said his office also will provide information on how the public will be able to provide its input.