Local non-profit hopes for funding increases in governor's budget
JEFFERSON CITY - A local non-profit research analysis firm has high hopes that Governor Nixon's budget will include increases in funding for education to make up for funding cuts from past years.
"There are significant needs in this state and Missouri has lagged behind in education funding," said Mike Sutherland, Policy Director for the Missouri Budget Project.
The Missouri Budget Project found specific programs that focus on early childhood education that have been cut.
Missouri's "Parents as Teachers Program" is one that was started in 1981 and then replicated to other states. The program is designed for parents to act like a child's "first teacher." However the program's funding was cut in half since 2009.
Although, the non-profit has kept close tabs on types of funding Gov. Nixon has cut in the past to compare it to previous years.
Traci Gleason, Missouri Budget Project's Director of Communications said to fully fund Missouri's "Foundation Formula," which provides state support to local schools would take over $400 million which is currently below the statutory funding requirement for K-12 education.
"This is just an illustration that there are many areas that resources need to be allocated to," Sutherland said.
KOMU 8 reached out to Gov. Nixon's office to address the education funding cuts.
Gov. Nixon's Press Secretary, Scott Holste disagreed saying funding for early childhood initiatives has actually doubled under Gov. Nixon. Attached is the 2015 news release.
"The kids in our state are such an important resource and it's important for our economy in our state that everyone has a great education," Sutherland said.
In addition to education, the Missouri Budget Project would like to see improvement in the following areas in the governor's budget proposal:
1) Addressing the earned-income tax credit, which reduces the amount of tax people owe and may people a refund. The Missouri Budget Project says adding this tax credit will encourage Missourians to work and result in increased pay and spending in the economy.
2) Streamline sales-tax loopholes, which the Missouri Budget Project says would "level the playing field" for Missouri businesses because it would reduce people from purchasing items online instead on instore to prevent paying sales tax to the business.
3) Expanding Medicaid, which the Missouri Budget Project says is a real issue the state of Missouri has to address because women in Missouri have the third lowest eligibility in the country.
Sutherland says in addition to education, mental health and transportation are also important areas for the state to address.
"We'll have to look toward the governor's recommendations and see what emphasis he puts on these programs to see if the legislature agrees with that or not."