The online hub of the Missouri School Administrators Coalition.

Special Bulletin #15: Tax Cut Bill Goes to Governor, Veto Expected

In lieu of a single bulletin, this week we will be sending multiple messages relating to specific issues that are currently being considered by the Missouri Legislature, most notably tax cuts and the school transfer issue.

Last week, the House of Representatives took up and passed SB 509 and sent it to Governor Jay Nixon’s desk for his signature or veto. Given that the bill is very similar in design and slightly less expensive that HB 253 from last summer, it is expected that Governor Nixon will veto the bill in the coming days. Because the bill is a Senate bill, the expected attempt to override the veto must originate in the Missouri Senate.

If you remember, last summer the Senate did not have to take a vote on the override of HB 253 because the attempt failed in the House of Representatives when fifteen Republicans and two Democrats that originally voted in favor of the bill switched their vote because of the bill’s impact on Missouri’s ability to fund state services, especially education. In the coming budget year (2014-2015), the foundation formula is underfunded by nearly $600 million. The cost of SB 509 is estimated to be between $600-$800 million. While that is less than the cost of HB 253, it figures to be a gigantic reduction that equates to nearly ¼ of the state’s expenditure on K-12 education and exceeds the total amount that Missouri spends on higher education.

Administrators should contact their State Senators and urge them to sustain the expected veto of SB 509. You are also strongly urged to contact two specific Senators that will be key in the outcome of SB 509: Sen. David Pearce and Sen. Gary Romine. Both of these Senators are strong advocates of public education and serve as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. Every administrator, principal, educator, central office staff and school board member should contact Sen. Pearce and Sen. Romine and urge them to oppose SB 509.

Sen. David Pearce
Phone: (573) 751-2272

Sen. Gary Romine
Phone: (573) 751-4008

SB 509, at its core, sells out Missouri’s ability to fully fund education in future budgets. Tough decisions have been made by both the state of Missouri and local school districts as we have maneuvered through the recession and our economy is beginning to grow again (at a faster pace than any state bordering Missouri). SB 509 commits Missouri to fund these tax breaks before meeting its responibility to Missouri schools. With full funding of our state’s foundation formula within reach, now is not the time to give away Missouri’s ability to meet the funding promises made in 2004.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jay Nixon proposed a budget that would have closed the gap for funding the formula by half. This $278 million increase to Missouri schools would mean schools would be able to do, among other things, replace decade old bus fleets, hire extra reading coaches, expand early childhood program, hire mental health professionals or invest in technology. What would an increase to your state aid mean to your district? The answer to that question is a key point to share with these Senators.

In a recent survey, when asked to list the largest obstacles to success, more than 75% of superintendents listed a lack of financial support to meet state mandates as a major obstacle to success. These Senators need to be reminded that school districts are being faced with the increased cost of doing business. This includes, among other things, increased fuel costs, increased insurance premiums, increased healthcare costs, and technology upgrades. What increased costs have your district experienced or do you expect to experience in coming years?

By diminishing the state’s ability to fund its commitment to education, SB 509 passes along the burden of support for schools to local taxpayers. While the state is failing to meet its commitments to Missouri schools, local taxpayers are supporting their local districts. Earlier this month, nearly 75% of school districts overwhelmingly passed levy or bond issues to fund projects in their communities. While this is encouraging, in failing to meet the state’s commitments rural districts that do not have a large tax base are the most heavily impacted districts when the state cannot fund the foundation formula. 

Below are three links to documents that you can refer to for additional information on SB 509 as you engage Senators on this very important issue.