Washington School District Would Lose Funds if HB 253 Becomes Law - The Missourian: Local News

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Washington School District Would Lose Funds if HB 253 Becomes Law

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Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2013 5:00 am

The Washington School District stands to lose anywhere between $492,084 and $851,684 if Republicans in the General Assembly override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of House Bill 253 in September.

The Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) this week distributed information to its members detailing how HB 253 affects every school district in the state.

The organization is recommending schools share this information with their communities and spread awareness about the ramifications if HB 253 does become law.

HB 253 changes the laws regarding the streamlined sales and use tax agreement, tax amnesty, the community development district tax, income tax, sales and use taxes, use tax nexus, and the transportation development tax.

Last month, Nixon said he was exercising his constitutional authority over the budget to restrict more than $400 million in state spending for the 2014 fiscal year. He said the cuts came in large part as a result of the uncertainty around HB 253.

Nixon said the cuts were a “down payment” on HB 253, which he says could end up costing the state $1.2 billion in annual revenue when fully implemented. He added that because the budget has to be finalized before a possible veto override, he has to “prepare for the worst” and begin planning for large cuts.

MASA has urged every school district in Missouri to prepare contingency plans if the bill becomes law.

Frustrating Situation

Washington Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said she plans to discuss HB 253 with school board members next Wednesday, July 31.

VanLeer said the situation is frustrating.

“I fail to see how we can advance this country and advance our school systems that are charged with educating youth with dwindling resources,” she said.

“Education is fundamental to our success locally, as a state and as a nation,” she added. “Missouri wants to be more, yet it grossly underfunds the one thing that can drive our economic engine.”

Other school districts in Franklin County stand to lose even more funding than Washington. The loss for Union, St. Clair and Meramec Valley is closer to $1 million or higher.

Information released by Missouri budget officials shows that public schools would lose as much as $450 million this school year plus $260 million annually if the override is successful.

School officials point out that Missouri’s statutorily required formula for school funding is already underfunded by over $600 million this year.

MASA said bills like HB 253 are projected to not only make those problems worse, but also prevent schools from making the reforms needed to better prepare students for the future.

“The state is already failing to meet its obligations to Missouri schools,” said Roger Kurtz, MASA executive director. “How are local communities going to cope with the fiscal cliff created by HB 253? Their only options are to continue to cut programs for kids or raise property taxes to make up the difference.”

School officials across the state have started speaking out against the bill. Joining them is AARP Missouri which says elderly Missourians also would be hard hit if the bill becomes law. HB 253 includes a $200 million tax increase on prescription medication.

In addition to raising taxes on seniors, the AARP says the bill would jeopardize the services that help seniors, such as nursing, transportation and nutrition programs.

On the other side of the issue is the Missouri Chamber, which is part of a broad coalition of business and consumer groups focusing efforts on the HB 253 veto override. The coalition name is Grow Missouri and it supports the bill, saying it would reduce taxes on employers and create jobs.

Veto Session

The Legislature will reconvene Sept. 14 for its annual veto session. At that time, both chambers of the General Assembly will be required to vote to override the veto of HB 253.

A veto override requires 109 votes, or two-thirds of the 163 elected state representatives.

The bill passed the House during the legislative session with 103 “yes” votes.

If the House votes to override the veto, the issue will then go to the Senate where 23 votes are required to override the governor’s veto. The bill received 24 “yes” votes in the Senate when it was approved during the legislative session.