Nixon vetos heavily-debated education bill
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a long-debated education bill Friday labeled "bipartisan" by Republicans in the senate.
The move came after the bill failed to meet all criteria Nixon set for the bill.
The Missouri Senate Majority Caucus said Friday it opposed the governor's veto.
House Bill 42 was originally intended to improve school district accreditation and tackle some of the challenges confronting districts in the school transfer process.
Mike Wood of the Missouri State Teachers Association said of Gov. Nixon's veto, "His decision to reject the one-size-fits-all approach of HB42 and the historic coordination plan with the districts in St. Louis that are impacted by the transfer issue helped produce a solution that will meet local needs without burdening schools across our state. I am hopeful that in the future the legislature will work with us on policies that will help promote local involvement in education."
Education Chairman and bill handler Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, said, "Even though we believed we were working together, at the end of the day, the governor is deciding to veto this bipartisan bill."
Gov. Nixon said, "House Bill 42 fails to solve the problems of unaccredited schools in the St. Louis region, and it creates new problems and mandates for districts around our state that are already doing well."
The Majority Caucus said in a news release:
"In 2014, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 493 which was ultimately vetoed by the governor. In his veto letter, he spelled out four objections. The Legislature took his objections to heart, returned this session, and passed House Bill 42 in the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 23-11."
Gov. Nixon also provided nine criteria as a framework necessary for him to sign a new bill. House Bill 42 addressed eight of those criteria.
Gov. Nixon said Friday the bill, "veered off track. By the time it got to my desk, it mandated expensive voucher schemes, neglected accountability, and skirted the major, underlying difficulties in the transfer law, while creating a host of potential new problems for districts across the state."
The governor said the bill would require taxpayers to pay for vouchers without accountability for student performance, establish unneccesary and expensive committees, and would fial to put a limit on the amount of tuition a district receiving a transfer student could charge.
John Jungmann, Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, said, "The problem with a proposal like House Bill 42 is that it seeks to replace local control with increased emphasis on standardized testing and more burdensome bureaucracy. We know this doesn't work."
Pearce said,"A veto is a significant setback for some of Missouri's most vulnerable children. It's sad that the real victims in this veto are the children who remain trapped in failing school districts. Apparently the governor is content to allow a child's zip code to determine whether they have access to educational opportunities."
Senate Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles said, "We've spent numerous hours coming up with a plan on how to make this measure work. We worked in good faith for the future of children in this state."
[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information from the Missouri State Teachers Association and Gov. Nixon.]