JEFFERSON CITY - Although Missouri's governor called on lawmakers to pass legislation to facilitate a settlement to court-ordered school desegregation, Mel Carnahan attacked Thursday the plan the Senate Education Committee approved.
"The price tag is just beyond our reach," Carnahan said of the plan that now heads to the full Senate for debate.
The measure would provide $1,000 more per-student to St. Louis and Kansas City schools than is provided by current law.
Bill sponsor Ted House, D-St. Charles, argues, however, the amount provided by the bill would be less than federal court-ordered payments to the city schools.
In a meeting with reporters at his mansion, Carnahan said he wants to pass a desegregation bill this session but that it is a narrow line as to whether the legislature will be able to put one together that he could support.
"The bill that was there, we did not see how we could pay for it," Carnahan said. "But, I am working with them and am very intent on trying to put together a bill."
In order to support the bill, Carnahan said it would have to pass four "tests."
Carnahan said the bill would have to:
-give additional financial support to St. Louis and Kansas City school districts
-cost as much or less than what the state is currently spending on desegregation
-not disrupt the funding of the state's current financial formula
-use savings from desegregation to fund areas in the state with high concentrations of poverty
Carnahan acknowledged that in facilitating a compromise, the possibility exists that advocates will be lost as supporters are gained.
"I hope we'll have a bill that will meet those tests," Carnahan said. "But I also hope we'll have a bill that will have someone left to vote for it."
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