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House Debates and Approves Education Budget

The Missouri House and Senate on Tuesday approved most of the state's operating budget, sending it on to the governor. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Working well ahead of Friday's constitutional deadline, the House and Senate nearly finished their work on the budget.

The final version of the budget is a compromise between the House and Senate and allocates more than 20 point 8 billion dollars.

Among the most contentious budget issues in the House...education funding.

Republican Representative Kathlyn Fares chairs the Education Appropriations committee.

She acknowledged that the budget isn't perfect but says it does put more money into public schools.

One particular education funding issues concerns Democratic Representative Joe Aull, a former school superintendent.

Aull says the state needs to do more to increase teacher salaries.

Another former school superintendent says the budget will be good for schools because it's based on reasonable revenue expectations.

Republican Maynard Wallace's district includes parts of Stone, Taney, Howell and Ozark counties...He says the budget proves education is the legislature's priority.

A particular part of the education budget troubled Springfield Democratic Representative Sara Lampe.

She says the budget does not include adequate funding for a gifted education program called the scholars academy.

She says since the budget uses a new calculation to fund schools, it's less likely that gifted students will receive services from the local district during the school year.

The school funding formula lawmakers approved last year does not set aside gifted education as a special funding category...Instead, it's lumped in with the majority of school expenditures.

Republican Representative Todd Smith says it's best to leave it up to local school districts to decide how much they want to spend on gifted education.

Most of the budget received final approval Tuesday, putting most of the bills on their way to the governor's desk.

Friday is the constitutional deadline for lawmakers to pass the budget.