Gov. Jay Nixon, senior administration officials and education leaders from throughout northwest Missouri today met at St. Joseph School District's Troester Media Center to discuss the impact of House Bill 253 on Missouri's public schools. Gov. Nixon vetoed House Bill 253 last month, calling it an unaffordable experiment that would force dramatic cuts to education and raise taxes on prescription drugs.
"Quality schools and a highly-skilled workforce are more than ever to competing in the global marketplace and growing our economy," Gov. Nixon said. "Today, Missouri's perfect credit rating is intact, GDP is up and businesses across the state are investing and growing. Unfortunately, right now, one reckless experiment cooked up by a few special interests threatens to throw us off course by jeopardizing support for education and other vital public services. Even based on the General Assembly's own estimates, House Bill 253 would funnel millions of dollars away from our public schools - and into the pockets of lawyers and lobbyists - each and every year."
Data released last week by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at the request of the Missouri Association of School Administrators showed a breakdown of district funding levels under two scenarios if House Bill 253 becomes law. The first scenario showed the impact using the General Assembly's fiscal note, which estimates a total cost of $692 million each year once the bill is fully implemented. The second scenario showed the impact using funding levels if the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law, which would increase the cost of House Bill 253 to $1.2 billion as early as the current fiscal year.
"With revenue reductions of this magnitude, almost all public services would be affected if House Bill 253 becomes law. But the impact on our K-12 schools would be among the most devastating to local communities, and harmful to our long-term economic growth," Gov. Nixon said. "The fact is, members of the General Assembly can either support House Bill 253 or they can support education, but they can't do both."
"Here in St. Joseph, we are committed to providing students with a quality education that prepares them for rewarding careers in fast-growing fields," said St. Joseph Schools Superintendent Dr. Fred Czerwonka. "Quality schools are vital to keeping this region moving forward, and that is why we are so concerned about the impact of House Bill 253. By reducing funding to our school district by as much as $6 million in a single year, House Bill 253 could increase class sizes, lengthen bus routes, and limit professional development opportunities for teachers. We support the Governor's veto of this bill and look forward to communicating with our elected representatives and senators about the need to make sure it's upheld."
The negative impact of House Bill 253 on schools in mid-Missouri would be significant. When fully implemented the cost each year could be $158,000 for Buchanan County R-IV schools, $700,000 for Savannah R-III schools, and $3.5 million for St. Joseph schools. If the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law, the cost for the current year could be $274,000 for Buchanan County R-IV schools, $1.2 million for Savannah R-III schools, and $6 million for St. Joseph schools.
Findings published last week by the three leading independent credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's, also show the potential for serious risks to Missouri's fiscal health and the state's long-standing AAA credit rating if the Governor's veto is overridden and House Bill 253 becomes law.