• Gov. Matt Blunt
Gov. Matt Blunt, in his State of the State Address on Jan. 11, vowed to continue his efforts to make education his No. 1 budget priority for Missouri.
In his proposed $7.8 billion fiscal 2007 budget, the governor calls for boosting state spending on education by $325 million, or 4.4 percent over the current level.
Spending Equity: The increase would fully fund the school spending formula lawmakers approved last May. Aimed at making school spending more equitable across the state, the formula set a minimum funding level of $6,117 per pupil. (“Missouri OKs School Aid Plan; Likely Plaintiffs Unimpressed,” May 25, 2005.)
A video of the governor’s speech is also posted. (Requires a media player.)
Gov. Blunt, a Republican, said the proposed increases include raising state aid to schools by $167 million; an additional $1 million for Missouri’s Parents as Teachers program for new parents; $6.1 million in additional aid to reimburse districts with high-cost special education students; $1.8 million more for the state’s A+ program, which underwrites the first two years of community college for students who meet certain requirements; and $17 million, or 1.9% more for state colleges and universities.
Spending Efficiency: Mr. Blunt, in his second year as governor, is also proposing a plan to ensure that school districts spend at least 65 percent of their budgets on teachers and students. That echoes a proposal being advanced in a number states around the country.
“We should ensure that as many of these new dollars as possible reach the classroom,” Mr. Blunt said. “I do not believe that it is acceptable to lag behind nearly every other state in teacher salaries, or for some districts to spend only 53 cents of every education dollar on student instruction.”