Critics of the bill that proposes change to Missouri’s student transfer law say it doesn’t fix anything, and want Governor Jay Nixon (D) to tell lawmakers to try again.
The bill lawmakers sent to Governor Nixon includes a provision that after three years of a district in St. Louis City or County and Jackson County being unaccredited, would allow its local tax dollars to go to a nearby private school if its students transfer there.
Opponents like Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) say that’s all the bill was about, and they want Nixon to veto it.
“I’ve heard from all of my superintendents, I’ve heard from my constituents. I don’t think there’s a superintendent in this state that supports this plan,” says Montecillo. “Those people that understand education and what it takes to improve education outcomes opposed this plan, and yet they continued to refuse to take vouchers off the table. If that’s not about agenda, then explain to me what it is about.”
Nixon has said he opposes any legislation that would let tax dollars go to private schools, but hasn’t said what he will do with this bill.
He tells reporters he knows he must act soon, with one school district bankrupt and another close to it because of the cost of student transfers.
“We’re going to expedite a review of this bill,” says Nixon. “Obviously I’ll have to make a decision on it relatively quickly because of the fiscal timeframes involved.”
Opponents of the bill want Nixon to call a special session so that a new bill can be created. He has not said whether he will.
House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) says if that happens, he wants to see more involvement from the Governor in a solution.
“If the governor vetoes this issue, then he owns it and he has to come up with a solution,” says Jones. “I will challenge him to propose and work with us, like he did in the Boeing special session. You saw that when this governor wants to, he can actually engage with the legislature, be a leader and get things done in a short period of time.”
Montecillo says it’s not up to the Governor to propose a plan.
“We have a plan,” says Montecillo. “The problem that [Republicans] have and what they dislike about that, it is a clean transfer fix. It addresses a single problem facing the state. It is void of the agenda that they want to push and promote.”
Opponents of the bill say the Governor has some leverage over what lawmakers might or might not attempt to put into a bill in a special session through the call he would issue for that session.