STLtoday: Missouri Senate OKs plan for K-12, higher education funding

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri senators on Wednesday adopted a budget proposal that would give more money to public K-12 schools in the upcoming fiscal year, but not as much as recommended by their House colleagues.

Senators voted 25-8 in favor of the spending plan, which would give $48 million more in core school funding in the fiscal year that begins in July. That’s about $50 million less than what was included in a plan passed by the House that would have met funding goals outlined in state law.

Republican Senate Appropriations Chairman Dan Brown, of Rolla, said the $50 million is needed to pay for other priorities, including another $25 million for school busing and more money for nursing home services. He also proposed putting some of the money toward avoiding a hike in state employee health care premiums.

“I would love to do more in education,” said Cosby Republican Sen. Dan Hegeman, another Appropriations Committee member. “But we’ve got a lot of needs in the state of Missouri.”

Brown said passing the budget out of the Senate with less money for K-12 schools than the House will give him more room to negotiate over other differences in spending priorities between the chambers, and he said more money for schools might ultimately end up in the final budget sent to Republican Gov. Eric Greitens.

House and Senate negotiators still need to hash out differences between the two chambers’ spending plans. The package of budget bills then need a second round of approval by lawmakers before they can go to the governor’s desk.

Other senators slammed the change.

“If this was my budget to deal with alone, I would be tipping the scales in support of public education,” said Democratic Sen. Jill Schupp, of Creve Coeur. “How our kids get educated is going to be everything about how we move forward and our future.”

Senators also on Wednesday voted 31-1 in favor of a higher education spending plan that would maintain the same funding for public colleges and universities next fiscal year. Because the House also approved stable funding, that money is locked in the budget.

The budget plan passed by senators includes an additional one-time $2 million boost for Harris-Stowe State University and $2.5 million to Missouri Southern State University. House lawmakers didn’t include that money in their proposal.

 
 
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