Columbia says state K-12 funding hike misses the mark

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COLUMBIA - A $26.1 billion state operating budget sent to the Governor's office Thursday would increase the budget for local schools.

If the budget is approved, funding for K-12 education would increase by $84 million and funding for higher education would increase by $12 million. The budget also allocates money for the A+ program as well as for community colleges in addition to Medicaid for adult dental care.

But Jonathon Sessions of the Columbia Public Schools Board said that isn't nearly enough.

"We've never had enough money," Sessions said. "Public education is always funded low here in the state of Missouri. There was a time when it was more funded than it is now, but it was still under funded."

According to the Senate Leader Tom Dempsy, this multi-billion dollar budget has room to budge.

"This budget was crafted with a surplus to help keep spending under control and continue to provide adequate funding for the state's vital programs," Dempsy said.

To accommodate the increases, the budget would cut funding for welfare by about four to six percent.

"Those programs have grown exponentially while education has only seen about an eight percent growth," Dempsy said.

Sessions has noticed the lack of growth for education funding.

"Our annual budget's about $285 million," Sessions said. "$84 million at the state level is a very small addition to the foundation formula when you consider the foundation formula is still under-funded by almost a half a billion dollars," Sessions said. 

Nixon has the choice to sign the budget or not, but all decisions have to be made by May 8.