Phase-in for Public School Funding Spurs Debate
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Phase-in for Public School Funding Spurs Debate

Date: April 3, 2008
By: Rebecca Layne
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: The leading members of the House Budget committee clashed over state funding of public schools on this week's edition of the public television program Jeff City Journal. Rebecca Layne has more from Jefferson City. RunTime:1:44
OutCue: SOC

The decision to phase in a 2005 funding formula that calculates distribution of state dollars to Missouri public schools continues to create a stir among legislators.

The bill calls for funding increases to be phased-in over the course of seven years, beginning in 2007.

St. Louis County Democratic Representative Margaret Donnelly says that this phase-in is too long.

 

Actuality:  DONNELLY.WAV
Run Time: 00:22
Description: When we passed the formula, we said, 'this is the minimum amount you need in order to provide a quality education.' We took a year before we even started implementing the formula. Now we're in the third year. So it was a total phase-in period of almost eight years. The point is, we said, 'This is what you need, but you wont get it for eight years.'


Republican Representative and Budget Chair Allen Icet says that Missouri is doing its part in funding public education and that fully funding the formula would be too expensive.
 
Actuality:  ICET.WAV
Run Time: 00:36

Description: The previous formula was phased in over a six or seven year time frame. So this is not unique. This is something that has been done in the past. To actually fully fund the formula would take about a billion dollars. And I will assure you we do not have a billion dollars laying around to fully fund the formula. Great idea, but we simply don't have that type of revenue to do that. So a phase-in is the best that we as a state can do. Some people contend that we are not doing our fair share. Which of course there was a court case filed and the circuit court ruled that we are. The constitution mandates that we as a general assembly provide at least 25% of our discretionary funds to education, and we're at about the 35% funding level.



The formula, which was projected to cost Missouri 800 million dollars, was created to base funding on students' needs instead of local property tax assessments. 

Reporting from Jefferson City, I'm Rebecca Layne.