Gov. Jay Nixon, senior administration officials and education leaders from throughout the Branson area today met at the Branson Public Schools District Office to discuss the impact of House Bill 253 on Missouri's public schools. The Branson School Board passed a resolution urging the legislature to sustain the Governor's veto of House Bill 253, which it said would jeopardize the state's ability to fund public education.
"Over the past several weeks, I have heard from Missourians in every corner of the state, including many lawmakers who initially supported this bill, who are increasingly concerned about the impact House Bill 253 would have on public education and other vital services," Gov. Nixon said. "With a price tag of $800 million a year, and no plan to make up for this drastic reduction in revenue, House Bill 253 would funnel millions of dollars away from our schools - and into the pockets of lawyers and lobbyists. I look forward to the General Assembly sustaining my veto of this fiscally irresponsible experiment so that we can continue supporting our schools and moving our economy forward."
"Here in Branson, we are committed to giving students a world-class education that prepares them for the best jobs in the global economy," said Branson Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Doug Hayter. "Public schools are vital to the continued growth of our economy and the strength of our community, and that's why we are so concerned about the impact of House Bill 253. Even if we go by the legislature's own estimate of this bill's cost, Branson public schools would take a hit of at least $800,000 a year if House Bill 253 became law. We will continue to reach out to our local elected representatives about the importance of supporting our schools by sustaining the Governor's veto of House Bill 253."
In addition to Branson, other school boards in southwest Missouri have passed resolutions urging the legislature to sustain the Governor's veto of House Bill 253, including Aurora R-VIII, Diamond R-IV, Logan-Rogersville R-VIII, Lebanon R-III, Nixa Public Schools and Springfield Public Schools.
In 2011, nearly 73 percent of voters in Branson approved a $42.9 million bond issue to support Branson Public Schools by building a new elementary school, adding classrooms to the high school and improving facilities throughout the district. The interest local communities pay on bond issues may be impacted by the state's credit rating.
Findings published last month 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. A downgrade to the state's credit rating would increase the interest paid on state and local bond issues.
Data also released last month 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.
"House Bill 253 and its staggering price tag will negatively impact all public services, especially education," Gov. Nixon said. "To pay for House Bill 253, Missouri would have to make devastating cuts to our public schools and institutes of higher learning, harming our long-term economic growth. The truth is, members of the General Assembly can either support House Bill 253 or they can support education - but they can't do both."
The negative impact of House Bill 253 on schools in the Branson area would be significant. When fully implemented, the cost each year could be $4.3 million for Springfield schools; $800,000 for Branson schools; and $2 million for Nixa schools. If the Federal Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law, the cost for the current year could be $7.5 million for Springfield schools; $1.3 million for Branson schools; and $3.5 million for Nixa schools.