I’m always amazed by the games Missouri’s Republican legislators play when it comes to public education.
Before I get started, let me first say this: we don’t spend near enough on public education in this country and everybody — not just conservative legislators — can shoulder some blame for that.
Missouri will spend about $3 billion on its K-12 public education system this year, about the same as it has spent the last few years. That’s a lot of money, to be sure, but it only accounts for roughly 13 percent of the state’s overall budget.
That’s not that big of a piece of the state’s pie, at least it doesn’t seem so to me. But that still doesn’t keep Republican lawmakers from messing with it.
For years, they have been trying to take some of the money targeted for public education and sink it into a flim-flam voucher system, which is a thinly-veiled attempt to fund private schools.
They keep passing and trying to pass legislation harmful to public sector employees, including teachers.
And now, they are championing a new law, House Bill 253, which would impose a massive income tax cut that financial experts say will likely lead to a $700 million cut in state revenue in a few years.
I bet you can guess which area of that state budget pie I just talked about will get trimmed first — and the most.
This is all news, of course, because Gov. Jay Nixon rightly vetoed HB 523, claiming the legislation would blast a hole in state revenues and prove especially detrimental to public education.
I agree with him.
Of course, the GOP-led House is now acting like they are offended that Nixon would question their commitment to public education.
“This budget includes a record amount of education funding,” they cry.
Well, yes, it does, but that’s kind of like saying I spent more this year on gas for my vehicles than I did last year because I did more driving. There are more students in the state and the costs of educating them are higher, so naturally the total is higher than past years.
And while that $3 billion number is nothing to sneeze at, it should be noted that it’s still about $600 million short of what is needed to adequately fund the state’s formula for funding public education.
Anyway, Repubs are threatening to override Nixon’s veto when lawmakers reconvene Sept. 11 and they are campaigning hard to get it done, boosted by the deep pockets of Mr. Anti-Public-Education himself, billionaire lobbyist Rex Sinquefield.
Meanwhile, Nixon and his supporters — which naturally include school board associations, labor unions and — according to The Kansas City Star — also some of the largest employers in the Kansas City area, are urging the General Assembly to support the gubernatorial veto. If all the Democratic lawmakers stick together and vote to support the veto, Republicans will need to sway three of its ranks in the House who voted against HB 253 to change their votes. Here’s hoping they stand firm, so public education won’t have to take any more shots — at least until next year.
Talk about a beautiful evening for the first night of the 150th Annual Platte County Fair Tuesday night. I was at the Fairgrounds for a little while getting some pics of the highly-entertaining and big-crowd-pleasing beard contest before heading back to the office to put this issue to bed.
Speaking of pics, you can check out plenty of great Fair pics this week and next at plattecountycitizen.com's Photo gallery. I’m sure you will see a pic of somebody you know — heck, you may even see one of yourself.
And remember — yours truly and my merry band of cold beverage purveyors will be manning the Bremer Beer Stand Thursday night. Stop by for a cold one.
See you at the Fair.
That’s about all you can say for the Boys in Blue in light of two recent developments.
One, as of this writing, KC had lost seven of its last nine, was eight games out of first place and had recalled Chris Getz from the minors. Let that sink in just a sec…
Two, the Chiefs training camp began Monday in St. Joe.
Sigh. Maybe next year.
Thanks for reading.
Lee Stubbs is owner/editor of The Citizen. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.