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By Joe Don McGaugh
State Representative 39th District
This week the governor has begun to push the idea that he will call for much higher levels of funding for both K-12 and higher education during this upcoming session.
The governor has said that he wants to make a “real investment” in public school classrooms by adding even more funding to the more than $3.1 billion we already allocate to K-12 schools.
Keep in mind that total includes a $66 million increase we approved in the budget this year which brought the total for education funding to record levels here in Missouri. It is also important to note that the governor withheld that money for several months before finally releasing it last month.
The governor also said he supports allocating more money for the state’s public colleges and universities. That would include not only more money for their budgets, but also additional funding for scholarship programs that will help more Missouri young people achieve the dream of obtaining a college education.
The governor has suggested not only providing more direct funding based on performance but also fine tuning a program like Bright Flight to ensure more of Missouri’s best students remain in state for their education and beyond.
In general these are ideas that I support as I do believe our education system should be at the top of our list of priorities each and every year. However, we also have to deal with the reality of our budget situation.
Right now it appears we have a positive outlook for next year’s budget, but we have to keep in mind that our budget has to be balanced and that we cannot simply pull more money for education out of thin air. My hope is that revenues will continue to come in ahead of projections and we will have a surplus that allows for a funding boost for education.
But before we get to that point, we need actual details for the governor’s proposals. Ideally, we will get those details and be able to work together to increase funding in areas that will produce the kind of positive results that our young people deserve.
As always, please do not hesitate to call or write me anytime with your questions or thoughts on this or any other issue. My Capitol office is 573-751-1468 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. McGaugh serves the 39th House District, which includes Chariton, Carroll and Ray counties.