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Spending cap handed down to House Education Appropriations

February 13, 2003
By: Megan McCloskey
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Higher and lower education stand to lose a combined $119 million in appropriations next year under a spending cap imposed by the House Budget Committee chairman Thursday.

With the dismal state of the budget, House Education Appropriations Committee Chairman Kathlyn Fares, R-St. Louis, said it didn't come as a surprise, but it was "still going to hurt."

For 2003, elementary and secondary education were given a little more than $2.6 billion from general revenue. With the new cap in place for 2004, lower education would have $2.5 billion to work with.

Higher education is looking at a $3 million reduction in funding, but with the governor's office projecting a $1 billion shortfall for next year without tax increases, the damage to education is less than it could have been.

Still, starting Monday the committee will have the tough task of deciding which programs will lose their funding.

"We'll be pinning good programs versus good programs," Fares said. "We'll have to live with only the essential."

While some educationally beneficial programs will have to be cut simply because of what the state can afford, this is an opportunity to evaluate the merit of the programs, Fares said.

The committee will hammer out the details of the 2004 appropriations by the end of next week.

"I told the committee members to bring their jimmies, because we aren't leaving until it's done," Fares said.