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Report: Recovery Pace Too Slow for MO School Children

PHOTO: A new report by the Missouri Budget Project finds the current rate of recovery from the recession just too slow for Missouri school children. Copyright: iStockphoto
PHOTO: A new report by the Missouri Budget Project finds the current rate of recovery from the recession just too slow for Missouri school children. Copyright: iStockphoto
October 1, 2012

ST. LOUIS - The State of Missouri is not recovering from the recession fast enough to to keep up with the needs of school children, according to a new report by the Missouri Budget Project. It says that years of budget cuts have really hurt schools. Classrooms have lost thousands of teachers, and schools have had to depend more on local property taxes, which have been down because of the bad housing market.

The group's Executive Director, Amy Blouin, says these budget cuts will have an impact for years to come.

"The child who is born today will be practically out of high school before Missouri is able to invest in education to the level that it used to."

Blouin says Missouri is now funding schools at more than $300 million below the level required by law. As a percent of state funding to local school districts, the report ranks Missouri as one of the lowest spenders, at 47th among the states.

She says Missouri will likely stay at the bottom if nothing is done.

"Based on current growth in revenue, Missouri will not reach its pre-recession levels of funding until 2029."

Brent Ghan, chief communications officer with the Missouri School Boards' Association, wants 'Proposition B' to pass in the November election. It would increase the tobacco tax, which is the lowest in the country, to benefit schools.

"Half the money raised by this tobacco tax increase would go to public education. And that would certainly not solve our funding problems here in Missouri, but it would go a long way toward helping schools."

Some convenience store owners are opposed to the cigarette tax hike, saying it would be bad for business. But Ghan says additional funding would help kids learn what they'll need to compete in a global economy. It's estimated the cigarette tax would raise around $300 million a year for Missouri schools and for smoking-cessation programs.

The report is at tinyurl.com/mo-schools.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO