The state legislature has passed a budget proposal that for the first time fully funds the current form of the K-12 education funding formula. The $27.7-billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would pump $48-million more dollars into the state’s public schools, providing them with nearly $3.4-billion.
The inclusion of full funding of the formula was a personal win for House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob).
“It was the number one thing I was going to figure out how to do when I released the [earliest version of the House’s budget proposal], was to fully fund the formula,” said Fitzpatrick. “I made that decision early on.”
House Democrats including Representative Deb Lavender (Kirkwood) say they are pleased with the funding increase, but point out that the legislature passed last year a bill reinstating a cap on how much the formula can grow year-to-year.
“Yes we’re fully funding the foundation formula – at a rate of $450-million less than what the foundation formula would have been a year-and-a-half ago,” said Lavender. “So, are we fully funding that?”
House Democrat Leader Gail McCann Beatty (Kansas City) said the budget included a “phantom fully funding of the formula.”
Republicans said reinstating that cap meant the formula would not continue to grow beyond what the legislature could appropriate.
“When the General Assembly took that cap off in 2010, starting at that point the formula has never been funded. They tweaked the formula in a way that made it unfundable,” said Fitzpatrick. “My contention would be that the formula that was agreed to in 2005, that everybody got in a room and worked out, is fully funded.”
The legislature’s proposal would also restore funding for school transportation, which Governor Eric Greitens (R) had proposed cutting.
The House and Senate voted to send that budget to Greitens Thursday, one day ahead of the constitutional deadline, and one day after selected House and Senate conferees finalized a compromise between each chamber’s proposals.