JEFFERSON CITY - A Republican proposal to change the way gambling would benefit secondary education starting in 2004 came under sharp criticism on Thursday.
Lower education is currently funded by the school foundation formula, which provides state funds to local school districts in accordance with their wealth as determined by property taxes. The formula is composed of general revenue funds and gaming proceeds.
The Republican proposal would eliminate the gaming portion from the formula and instead put the money into what they call a classroom trust fund to be distributed on a per-pupil basis.
"Our classroom trust fund legislation will provide additional funding to all Missouri schools equally and give schools complete flexibility to spend this money on their priorities," said House Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County.
Democrats say if gaming money is eliminated it will not be possible to fully fund the foundation formula, which Gov. Bob Holden has cited as one of his main budget priorities for this year.
Republicans say their plan concerns the 2004 fiscal budget, giving them time to come up with money to create their trust fund and fully fund the foundation formula.
In addition, Democrats say they are concerned that the proposal undermines the idea of equity the formula is based on.
"This flies in the face of rational, equitable use of money for school children," said Rep. Richard Franklin, D-Independence.