Taylor Lay – Staff Intern Reporter
We can all agree that investing in the future generation is a high priority, especially in education. It’s important to know what is going on in the local, state and national governments when it comes to education because it affects those we cherish most. Decrease in government funding has been a major strain on local school districts and higher education institutions. This strain forces educational institutions to crunch numbers and potentially cut funding to vital resources leading to eliminating music or art departments, laying off teachers, or reducing expenditures on sports teams.
The Missouri General Assembly plays a vital role in determining what percentage of the budget goes towards education, how much to invest, and which educational programs to invest in. The State of Missouri has approved the fiscal budget for 2016 and education can celebrate the victory of receiving an increase in government funding.
Nate Walker, District 3 State Representative, said during this year’s General Assembly the House invested a record of $5.78 billion in the public school sector. For the support of K-12 education, the house continued to support Parents as Teachers and Teach for America, quality programs improving the readiness and quality of education for children.
Walker said increased state aid funding for the Foundation Formula, Missouri’s primary method of distributing money to public schools, by $84 million for K-12 school districts for the new budget year. This increase is over $30 million more than the governor had recommended. Additionally, Walker said the language of the budget has declined funding for Common Core assessment in Missouri.
Amy Boulin, Executive Director of the Missouri Budget Project, said the increase in state aid is a significant move in the right direction. Boulin said the formula for state funding of local schools is projected to remain nearly $400 million below required funding levels even with that increase. She said the increase would close that gap only slightly.
“This places a particular burden on schools that are within more rural districts and schools that lack the ability to leverage increased local property taxes to replace the state shortfall in funding,” Boulin said.
Local higher institutions such as Truman State University and Moberly Area Community College are strong assets to our community and Northeast Missouri. Walker reported the House has made significant investments to support higher education institutions. For 2016, Missouri will spend $1.26 billion on public colleges and universities, increasing their funding by $30 million over last year.
“While the increase is moving Missouri in the right direction, the investment still lags behind the support provided in the 2009 budget year,” Boulin said.