Arguments about whether the state is meeting its constitutional duty to fund public schools aren’t just confined to a Jefferson City courtroom. They have spilled over into House debate on the state’s $21 billion budget.
More than 200 school districts contend in the lawsuit that the state isn’t spending enough on schools. Closing arguments in that lawsuit have been heard in Cole County Circuit Court, just blocks from the Capitol. Democrats, such as Representative Sara Lampe (D-Springfield), make mention of the lawsuit in criticizing majority Republicans during budget debate in the House. Democrats contend the lawsuit itself is evidence that Republicans aren’t devoting enough money to schools.
Republicans counter that the budget increases education funding by $132 million, to a record $2.8 billion. In fact, criticism from Democrats has brought an emotional response from House Budget Committee Chairman Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) who has pointed out that school funding in the proposed budget goes well beyond the 25% constitutional mandate.
The issue likely will be raised once again when budget debate shifts to the Senate.
The state budget is contained in HB1 through HB13.