House budget committee chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) says he generally agrees with Governor Greitens’ budget approach, but will consider funding changes for K-12 education. The governor’s $27 billion proposed state spending plan that begins July 1 includes a reduction of $31 million to K-12 schools’ busing budget.
“We will look at some of the things the governor’s done in education. I’m glad that he was able to hold the foundation formula [for state aid to K-12 education] flat in his budget but we’ll look at if there’s a way for us to increase that appropriation while maintaining the overall level of appropriations that the governor and the legislature had previously agreed to,” says Fitzpatrick.
Greitens’ proposed $159 million in higher education reductions could have gone much deeper if the governor hadn’t spread budget cuts as he did, according to Fitzpatrick. He says the governor recommended “a pretty sizable amount of money” for Missouri’s colleges and universities in the proposed budget.
“Higher education is one of the largest discretionary items in the budget,” says Fitzpatrick. “I agree with a lot of what the governor said. Higher education institutions aren’t the most efficient institutions when you compare them to a lot of other things that we do.”
Fitzpatrick says colleges and universities are expensive to maintain and they have many other revenue sources besides state funding.
He also wants to review the foundation formula that’s used to fund K-12 schools and figure out what it would take to fully fund the formula.
“We’re going to look at updated numbers on what it would take to fund the [K-12 education] formula. I think that number has come down some because there has been less growth in average daily attendance in the state than had been anticipated,” says Fitzpatrick. “We’re going to look at that and if it’s something that we can do with some of the potential savings in some of the other areas that I mentioned then that will be probably priority number one.”
The legislature has until the beginning of May to pass a state budget.