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Lawmakers Battle Over Education Funding

May 8, 2003
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

Lawmakers have finished their work on the state budget.

Missy Shelton has this report on one of the biggest battles involving the budget.

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The Missouri House and Senate spent hours debating the funding plan for elementary and secondary education before approving it.

So what's the impact of the public education budget on local schools?

Well, it depends on who you ask.

Democrats like representative Wes Shoemyer say the cuts are too deep...During debate on the budget, he accused Republicans of losing sight of campaign promises since coming to Jefferson City.

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It's that kind of comment that angers Republican lawmakers.

Republican representative Jim Lembke says the budget demonstrates that lawmakers are committed to making education a priority.

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But on the other side, democrats argue that if education were a priority for republicans, they would be more willing to send a tax increases proposal to voters to generate funding for public schools...Indeed, some senior republicans in the senate have advocated putting a tax package before voters because they say the cuts throughout the budget are too deep.

As it stands now, Democratic Representative Chuck Graham says republicans have forced equally important interests to compete for funding.

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During debate, the ongoing criticism from democrats like Chuck Graham prompted several republicans to stand and defend their position.

Republican representative Kathlyn Fares stood on the floor of the House to say she doesn't enjoy seeing education get cut.

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The education budget is on its way to democratic govenror Bob Holden...On Thursday, he did not threaten to veto the legislature's final spending plan...Instead, he said he's still reviewing it.

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