The state legislature has voted to put back a limit on how much the target to fund K-12 education can grow every two years.

Representative David Wood (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative David Wood (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

For years the state has not fully funded the K-12 funding formula. The legislature overturned a veto by Governor Jay Nixon (D), making law a bill capping growth in that formula at 5-percent every two years.

House Sponsor David Wood (R-Versailles) said that will make the target one the state can afford to hit.

“The Governor ignored the formula altogether and was looking at imaginary numbers with $550-million coming into the state that we don’t have, and if we did find that money it would be an additional $400-million in two years, which, we can’t find $1-billion in two years,” said Wood.

The bill had bipartisan support, but many Democrats including Margo McNeil (D-Florissant) said it is an admission by Republicans that they haven’t made education funding a high enough priority.

“We have said, ‘Whoops, we’re just going to do what we think we can achieve, not what we should achieve,'” said McNeil. “We have failed to put education first. We have failed to make education the priority it should be.”

Wood said the legislature still needs to come up with more education funding.

“What we’ll actually have to fully fund is $6,241 next year, which would take approximately $90-million dollars. Then the following year it will be readjusted. It will be a little over $6,300 for [a state adequacy target]. That would be an additional $100-million or so.”

K-12 funding in the state spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 was more than $400-million short of the formula’s goal, despite a $71-million increase. With the overturn of the veto on the growth cap bill, funding would be about $54-million short.