School Funding Limit Sparks Debate
The Missouri National Education Association opposes an initiative that would limit how much the state can spend on public education. The association said the proposal could hurt Missouri educators and students.
The Missouri NEA met Wednesday in Jefferson City to talk about the proposed initiative. The NEA worries that people who sign petitions may not understand what they are signing.
"Our concern is people collecting these signatures will be giving out inaccurate and misleading information," said Otto Fajen of the Missouri NEA. "Article 14 really means cuts in education, cuts in health care and a stagnant economy for a lifetime."
The NEA said Colorado passed a similar initiative in the early 1990s. Wade Buchanan, NEA policy researcher, was there at the time.
"We went from about middle of the pack, in terms of K-12 education, to being ranked 49th in the country," he said. "Teachers' salaries went from being 30th in the nation to being dead last."
A group called Missourians in Charge wrote the proposed initiative. Members said they want voters to decide state spending issues. The group has until May 9 to collect at least 145,000 petition signatures to put the initiative on the November ballot.
If voters approve the initiative, raising the state spending cap on public education will require the approval of at least two-thirds of Missouri lawmakers and another statewide vote.