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Nixon Recommends $496M Increase to Education in 2015

Last night, Gov. Jay Nixon took the first step to meeting his promise to fully fund Missouri's school funding formula by the end of his term. The surprise is how quickly the Governor wants to fulfill the promise of the state's formula. Despite three years left in office, Governor Nixon is seeking to fully fund Missouri schools in just two years.

Overall, Governor Nixon is recommending an increase of $496 million in education in areas from birth through graduate school.

A few of the highlights of Governor Nixon's education budget request...

2015 Early Childhood Education

  • $53.3 million for the First Steps Program (an increase of $8.5 million)
  • $31.7 million for the Missouri Preschool Program (an increase of $20 million)
  • $16 million for Parents as Teachers (an increase of $1 million)
  • $3.35 billion for the state's foundation formula (an increase of $278 million)
  • $115 million for K-12 transportation expenses (an increase of $15 million)
  • $46.6 million for high needs special education students (an increase of $10.4 million)
  • $26.8 million for the Missouri Assessment Program (an increase of $12.4 million)
  • $10 million for one-time grant program to expand broadband internet
  • $5 million supplemental request to ensure the Normandy school district stays solvent for the current school year
  • $3 million for Teach for America (an increase of $1 million)
  • $2.25 million to increase the number of students taking AP exams and dual credit courses
  • $1 million for Pathways to Prosperity
  • $1 million for dropout prevention and workforce preparation for at-risk students
  • $35 million from General Revenue to make up the shortfall that was realized in gaming funding for FY2014
  • $6 million to fill the shortfall to the High Need Fund
  • $5 million for the Normandy School District so that the district can stay solvent through the end of the current school year.

2015 Elementary and Secondary Education

Gov. Nixon also released his plan for a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year that includes the following...

The governor's 2015 budget seeks to increases the current state appropriation for the foundation formula by $287 million,which is half of the $556 million that the calculation is currently underfunded. To date, Missouri has underfunded schools by a total of $1.2 billion over the past four years. This does not include the elimination of Career Ladder, a 70% reduction in transportation spending, a 50% cut to Parents as Teachers which have been realized during that same time period.

You can find a simulation of how your district would benefit from the Governor's proposed formula increase by clicking here.

Nixon went beyond his call for an investment in education and stated his position on the subject of tax cuts in the coming legislative session. In a continuation of his stand last summer and fall on HB 253, Nixon promised to veto any tax cut that came to his desk that would pull money out Missouri classrooms.

Much of the budget debate will now turn to the discrepancies that exist between the Governor and the Missouri Legislature estimated revenue for the 2015 fiscal year. For the first time in decades, the executive and legislative branches were unable to come to a consensus regarding the amount of tax receipts the state of Missouri will receive in 2015. This means the Governor has based his budget request off of one estimate while the Legislature will base its budget off an estimate that is $140 million less than the Governor's. If the Legislature were to pass a budget that exceeded revenues, it is ultimately the Governor's responsibility to balance the state budget as the fiscal year plays out.

Since the time Republicans have taken control of the Missouri Legislature, they have yet to cut money from the foundation formula once the Governor has put it in his budget request. This is largely due to support from Democrats and to a large number of rural Republicans, whose schools benefit the most from increased state investment in the formula. Democrats are expected to support the Governor's request. Rural Republicans will be key in the budget debate moving forward considering their elected leaders hail from regions of the state that get little state aid for their schools or are proponents of spending state funds on private schools or attacking teacher tenure, pay, and retirement.

As we move into session and through the budget process, administrators should engage their legislators, parents, and communities and discuss the specific benefits of an investment in your district and hold legislators accountable for their decisions on this state budget.

You can watch Gov. Nixon's speech in its entirety, as well as the Republican response from Speaker of the House Tim Jones (R - Eureka) by clicking here.

You can stay up to date with the state budget and many other education issues by keeping up with the School Administrators Coalition Weekly Bulletin, by following us on Twitter, or by signing up for our daily news update.