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16 April 2010

Rupp: A Wild Ride for Education Funding

Throughout the past week, there has been considerable debate on the state funding of our local school districts.   The state was able to fund 98.6 percent of the education funding formula for the remainder of the 2010 fiscal year, which ends on June 30th.  That means that our local schools were still getting an increase of funds over the 2009 levels, but not everything they had hoped to get when the fiscal year started.

That left a dilemma for the Legislature.  This was the first time that the state was unable to fully fund the formula since it was implemented several years ago.  The Legislature had to grapple with the difficult scenario of how to deal with less than fully funding the formula and how these funds would be distributed.

The position that I supported in the Senate Appropriations Committee was to share the reduction from fully funding the formula equally across all school districts.  However, an amendment was offered on the floor of the Senate to have "Hold Harmless" school districts not receive any reduction in funds since it would drop them below what they got in 2009.  We attempted to defeat this amendment during floor debate, but we were unsuccessful.

That set off a chain of events in local areas on how to define a hold harmless school district and if they be treated differently.  By the end of the day on Tuesday (4/13), the issues were resolved by the governor using a controversial veto of the language added by the amendment but not vetoing the funding in the budget bill signed into law.

This went back to the original position I supported, which shares the reductions evenly across all school districts, benefits all the schools in the 2nd Senatorial District that I serve. However, it is highly likely that a legal challenge will be mounted by the Hold Harmless school districts.

The same day, the Senate debated changing the foundation formula so we could deal with next year's budget on the very same issue.  The foundation formula is a complex series of calculations that takes into consideration a wide variety of information on how to equally and equitably fund education in Missouri.

These struggling economic times are forcing the state to review all aspects of government.  While we are reducing many state programs by 20 to 30 percent, we are attempting to fund education as our top priority and to spare our local schools from any reductions in per pupil assistance.  The task that lies ahead is daunting and challenging as state revenues continue to plummet, but our steadfast commitment to make education our top priority is unwavering.\

Senator Rupp's Pro-Life Measures Move Forward

My pro-life measures moved forward in the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 747, which I sponsored, would expand Missouri's health insurance coverage ban on elective abortions, would prohibit any plans and policies offered through any health insurance exchange in Missouri from covering an abortion. Missouri was one of the very first states to react to federal health care mandates that could make abortions easier to obtain.

This legislation protects Missouri's long standing desire to not use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions, and it's especially important now that the federal health care mandate attempts to do just that.

The Senate added language from SB 747 to Senate Bill 793, which I co-sponsored. If enacted, SB 793 requires a woman seeking an abortion to review printed material detailing the risks of the procedure to the mother and child, including photos that detail the child's life at two-week intervals. It also would give the mother the opportunity to hear the unborn child's heartbeat and view an ultrasound, all within 24 hours of the procedure.

In addition to written informed consent, the legislation would require the physician to explain alternative options and access to numerous counseling options.

This legislation would make sure that the mother sees that there is a life inside of her, with a heartbeat, and that there are other options available than ending that life.  It's my hope that the little heartbeat the mother hears tells her to choose life.

Senate Bill 793 received first round approval and needs one more vote before moving to the House.

There will be many more discussions over the next few weeks on this and many other important issues, and as always I look forward to hearing your feedback on the issues that are important to you and your family.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail or by calling 866-271-2844.

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