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Nixon Vetoes MO School Spending Cuts

Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill to cut money going to education, saying lawmakers are breaking a promise to local schools. (Virginia Carter)
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a bill to cut money going to education, saying lawmakers are breaking a promise to local schools. (Virginia Carter)
May 5, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon has vetoed a bill that would have cut K-12 funding by more than $456 million.

In his budget proposal, Nixon called for the opposite, an increase of $150 million for local public schools for fiscal year 2017.

The governor on Wednesday held a public event at Ferguson Middle School to veto SB 586. He said budgets are about priorities, and the same lawmakers who say the state can't afford to give money to education are supporting special interests and pet projects.

"Senate Bill 586 would undermine the state's commitment to public education, shortchange Missouri students and pave the way for more unaffordable tax cuts,” Nixon said. “This cheapening of the foundation formula would break a promise we've made to our local schools and the students that they educate. It's a cynical policy which I cannot and will not support."

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jay Wasson (R-Nixa), maintains the governor's numbers are inaccurate and adds that when the formula to fund schools was implemented, it included a projected increase in gambling revenue but those revenues actually have dropped. He calls the governor's funding plan "phantom money" and rejects the claim that his bill is a cut for elementary education.

Nixon said lawmakers are turning their backs on schools at a time when Missouri has made a lot of progress.

"Missouri's graduation rate is top 10 in the nation,” he pointed out. “Test scores are up. The number of students needing remediation once they get to college is down.

“And Missouri is a national leader in increasing the number of schools offering the hands-on, science-based curriculum Project Lead the Way."

If the cuts were put into place, some examples of how much school districts would lose: Columbia, more than $10 million; Jefferson City, more than $5 million; Moberly, $1.3 million and Fulton, $1.3 million.

Nixon said lawmakers waited until the last minute to pass the bill so he'd have very little time to take action.

"The Legislature passed this bill at a time frame in which I have a very limited time to act, and they did that for a reason,” he stated. “They wanted to limit the amount of time people would have to call their senators and call their representatives, or call their school boards or call their superintendents."


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MO