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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Capitol Report

Thursday, October 14, 2004

This week I started my visits to schools in the district that participate in the Missouri Reads Program. Scholastic Books provides the books for each elementary school and I get to deliver the books and talk about the importance of each student learning to be the best reader they can be. This is a wonderful part of my job, getting to the classroom and seeing those smiling faces and hearing our children's dreams for the future.

As I listened to their plans to become artists, designers, scientists, builders, doctors, teachers, truck drivers, lawyers, professional sports stars, and even a "green power ranger," I was reminded of the importance of providing a quality education for our kids. I was also reminded of the important connection between educating our children and job creation. As we know, a good education is important, but our kids also need jobs when they graduate. So we must continue to emphasize education and job growth, which go hand in hand to give our kids the opportunity to succeed in life.

This past session the General Assembly emphasized the importance of education and investing in our school children. Even though a large part of our state budget is federal money, earmarked for certain programs, the House and Senate made the commitment to see that our state's available revenue growth went into school funding. This year's record $4.766 billion elementary and secondary education budget includes an additional $216 million in state and federal dollars; the $143 million more in state dollars is directed to the school funding formula and categoricals. This does not include the $122 million the governor released in April, which was withheld from our schools last year.

The General Assembly is also working to restore accountability to the budget process by redirecting more money to the classroom and working to reduce excessive regulations and paperwork that limits the amount of time our teachers can spend actually teaching our kids. It is important to give teachers the tools to teach and not the expansion of top-heavy administrative and bureaucratic costs.

Fortunately, our state's revenue picture continues to look positive after several years of little or no growth, which is good news for our schools. We are also expecting about a $40 million positive benefit to our state budget from last year's bi-partisan effort to improve our tax policy. The General Assembly closed unfair tax loopholes that have been around for decades while protecting legitimate tax incentives that help keep jobs in our state.

I believe we are headed in the right direction by investing the growth in our state budget in our children's education and redirecting our state's dollars to education without a tax increase on our families and senior citizens.