August 3, 2015

Governor wants Legislature to support veto on A+ scholarships bill

Governor Jay Nixon (D) is asking the Legislature to uphold his veto of a bill that would revoke A+ scholarships from students because of their federal immigration status.  Nixon says it’s unfair to those students who have worked hard for the scholarships.

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

Governor Jay Nixon (D)

“I think it’s a mistake in policy to say to a student that while you’re in high school if you do all these hard things we’re gonna give you a scholarship and come back later on and take it away from them. It’s just a matter of fairness,” says Nixon.

Nixon says the state shouldn’t base Missouri students on their federal immigration status. The budget bill also included a provision to require public colleges and universities to charge those students their international tuition rate. The scholarship grants students two years tuition at any community college or technical school in Missouri.

The Legislature could try and override the Governor’s action during September’s veto session.

Missouri sex education to now include info on predators and sexting

Missouri’s public and charter schools who teach sexual education must now include information about sexting, sexual predators and online predators. The addition was signed into law last week by Governor Jay Nixon.

Representative Genise Montecillo (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Genise Montecillo (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The bill’s sponsor, St. Louis representative Genise Montecillo, hopes such education will make children safer from predators on the internet and cell phones.

“It’s just a huge door that’s been opened for them to get to our children in a much easier way, so hopefully we can get kids to understand that there is a risk,” Montecillo told Missourinet.

Missouri KidsFirst Deputy Director Emily van Schenkhof says such education could avert many abuses.

“Kids that have been kind of struggling to find community and connection, they go online looking for entertainment and looking for friendship, and these kids are vulnerable,” said van Schenkhof. “They simply don’t have the capacity at that point, both the emotional maturity and the knowledge, about how you talk to people safely online.”

The bill received broad support throughout the legislative process. Montecillo said that was due, in part, to taking this provision out of earlier efforts to pass it as part of larger, more sweeping bills. She says once this language was offered on its own, it drew support from a broad spectrum of both conservative and liberal interests.

“This was an issue that there’s not a lot of disagreement. We want to protect our kids from pedophiles,” said Montecillo.

Some critics, though, say it doesn’t do enough to change Missouri’s laws regarding sex education.

Top amounts for Access Missouri scholarships increases

College students have the opportunity to receive more funding through Access Missouri scholarships. The maximum scholarship award has increased from $660 to $850 for students attending two-year schools and from $1,500 to $1,850 for those attending four year colleges.


Governor Jay Nixon

Governor Jay Nixon says the increase is good for the economy.

“We count on students to graduate, get jobs and spend money. If students are graduating, getting jobs and paying us back, that doesn’t really help the economy at the level we need.”

Nixon says student loan debt is an increasing problem.

“There’s more than a trillion dollars by students. There’s more student loan debt in America today than there is credit card debt. It’s unbelievable.”

The money for the increase was released by the Governor from the fiscal year 2015 budget. Those funds will be used in the upcoming school year.

Access Missouri is a needs-based scholarship program to help students of low-income families attend a participating Missouri college or university. Approximately 50,000 students receive an Access Missouri scholarship annually.




House reauthorizes ‘No Child Left Behind’, issue now moves to Senate

The House on Wednesday voted to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law. The bill narrowly passed 218-213 and Missouri’s congressional delegation voted along party lines, with Republicans voting in support of the proposal and Democrats voting against it.

The U.S. Senate is expected to debate the issue this week. Senator McCaskill says the 2002 law needs major changes.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri)

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri)

“We are making major changes to that legislation because we’ve learned that No Child Left Behind doesn’t work as it was intended to work.”

Reading and math tests would continue to be a part of the law, but would allow states, instead of the federal government, to decide how to use assessments to measure performance. The proposal would also prohibit federal requirements on a specific set of academic standards.

Senator McCaskill says she supports the concept that the bill represents.

“We’ve got to get away from the underperforming schools being starved and this notion that one size fits all in terms of testing.”

If Congress finds a compromise, it’s unknown if the President will sign the legislation. Obama has expressed opposition to both the House and Senate bills.







$70 million Powerball ticket sold in Missouri on Independence Day

Someone in Missouri hit the $70 million Powerball jackpot on Independence Day.  Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon says the state has had good jackpot odds.

missouri lottery

Missouri Lottery

“We love the fact that we have the second most winning numbers of Powerball in the history of the Powerball game,” said Scheve.

She says the prize is also a great bonus for the retailer who sold the ticket.  Reardon says winning retailer stores have historically increased sales by at least 10% following a Powerball jackpot.

“We do always say, as soon as we release the location, all the people are going to go running to that store to buy new tickets because they think lightning is going to strike there. We love that.”

The Missouri Lottery will be giving more than $800,000 of the jackpot prize to elementary, secondary and higher education in the state.

The identity of the winner has not been released.  The winner will become the owner of the ninth largest jackpot prize ever won in Missouri.