Weather-Related Disclaimer: missives from legislators concerning road conditions, although timely and important, should be considered snapspots in time. For the most recent travel information, please consult MoDOT's Web site at

except when the post starts "MO Expat", all content published on Missives from Missouri is written and supplied by the noted legislator. Said missives will not necessarily reflect the views of Kyle Hill, the operator of Missives from Missouri, and as such the operator does not assume responsibility for its content. More information
Share this missive:

16 April 2010

Engler: Funding Education in a Difficult Budget Year

As I have said in my previous columns this year, we are facing a long-term budget crisis.  In fact, we are looking at the worst revenue shortfall in our state's history.  The Senate has struggled to create a balanced budget after the governor delivered a budget proposal that was more than half a billion dollars out of balance.  Since we will not raise taxes on hard-working Missourians, the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate have made difficult choices cutting nearly $500 million in spending from the governor's proposal.

The issue of school funding in these tough budget times has been a major focus.  No area of the budget will be able to avoid cuts, so we are working to balance the necessity of fiscal responsibility with our desire to keep education funding a priority.  In 2005, I worked with my Senate colleagues to develop a new school funding formula that is based on student need, not property values.  When we designed the formula, we planned to phase-in an increase over a seven-year period.  However, now that times have gotten tough, we are struggling to make these increases while keeping the budget in balance.

This week, we worked on Senate Bill 943 to modify the funding formula in our state and House Bill 2002 to fund schools for the coming fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2010.  Both of these bills created serious discussions on how to fairly distribute money to our schools districts.  When passed by the General Assembly in 2005, the law to fund our school did not include guidelines on how to handle the funding phase-in if faced with a shortfall.  This is what we accomplished with SB 943, which extends the phase-in through the 2016-2017 school year so that we can successfully phase-in the funding without spending outside of our means.

One main issue that was raised during discussion was the "hold-harmless" schools in the state.  When the new formula took effect, most schools in Missouri received an increase in funding.  However, some school districts in wealthy areas with particularly high property tax revenue did not receive an initial increase in their foundation funding.  Some have pushed to exempt these hold-harmless schools from having to face any funding cuts, even as most school districts in the state are facing a budget crunch.  However, I support efforts in the Legislature to spread any funding cuts across all school districts.  Senate Bill 943 contained language to ensure that these wealthy school districts have to face funding cuts along with every other school district in our state.

When faced with these tough decisions, we have to make sure that the available education funding goes where it is most needed, directly to students in our K-12 classrooms. As work on the budget continues in the coming weeks (the constitutional deadline to complete the budget is May 7th), we will continue to work to make sure that the most pressing needs of our state are met, while crafting a balanced, responsible budget.

No comments:

Post a Comment