JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — Missouri's public schools and community colleges would receive larger funding increases than recommended by Gov. Jay Nixon, under a budget plan presented Wednesday to a House committee.
However, it would scrap Nixon's recommendation to give a performance-based funding increase to public universities.
The House Budget Committee still could amend the fiscal 2016 spending plan, which also must pass through the full House and Senate before going to the governor's desk.
Nixon in January proposed a $50 million increase in basic aid distributed through the state's public school funding formula, on top of the more than $3.1 billion schools are getting this year. The House Budget Committee proposal would provide a $70 million increase.
Ronald Lankford, deputy commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the House committee's proposal would be enough to ensure that no school district loses money when the funding formula is calculated.
Under the governor's proposed increase, "we would've had a number of school districts ... that would've seen a loss," he said.
Even with the additional funding in the committee's plan, the state budget still would fall several hundred million dollars short of the amount needed to fully fund the school formula.
Education groups have expressed concerns that some school districts could have to make cuts if there is not enough of an increase to the state's basic aid because of a new law prohibiting the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from prorating funding for certain districts when the state doesn't fully fund the school formula — meaning that other districts would bear more of the burden.
The House Budget Committee proposal has a smaller increase for higher education institutions than the $12 million recommended by Nixon. The governor wanted to distribute that increase primarily based on a performance formula to both community colleges and four-year universities.
Under the governor's proposal, community colleges would've gotten about $2 million more than last year while four-year institutions would've gotten about $10 million more. The House Budget Committee plan includes no additional performance-based funding but adds about $6 million in equity funding for community colleges. There would be no increases or cuts to four-year institutions.
Officials at four-year universities expressed confidence that increases would be added for the coming fiscal year later in the budget process.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint," Missouri State University President Clifton Smart said. "We're confident that there will be a significant increase for higher education by the time it gets to the governor's desk."
John Fougere, a spokesman for the University of Missouri System, said in an emailed statement that the system is working with lawmakers "to ensure we receive the funding and resources necessary to meet our mission as the state's only public land-grant higher education institution."
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