Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Governor's Ultimatum

Springfield, MO Missouri's governor says he'll cut education funding by $350 million if lawmakers don't approve his plan toborrow money through the tobacco settlement. KSMU's Missy Shelton is inJefferson City with the details.

Related Link: View the Governor's Proposed Cuts to Higher Education

The governor laid out a proposal that calls for budget cuts that impact public schools. For example, his plan takes away just under 4 million dollars from the Springfield Public School district, more than 8 million from SMSU and 955 thousand dollars from Ozarks Technical Community College. Missy Shelton is in Jefferson City with the latest on today's (Tuesday's) announcement.

The governor Bob Holden received this introduction from the Missouri School Boards Association Conference in Jefferson City.

But during his remarks to the hundreds of school board members from across the state, Governor Bob Holden said he would cut public school districts, universities and colleges by 350 million dollars unless lawmakers approve the governor's plan to borrow the money. At issue whether lawmakers believe it's a good idea to get 350 million dollars in money up-front, right now by selling off bonds against future payments from the tobacco settlement. Holden says the alternatives are not good.

The governor's plan has not received support from Republican leaders in the House and Senate. House Speaker Catherine Hanaway says it's only a quick fix.

That's the beginning of the next fiscal year when the state is estimated to be one billion dollars short. Right now, state budget officials estimates the state needs 350 million dollars to pay its bills the next five months. And now, the governor's made it clear that if lawmakers don't come up with that money, it will come by holding back payments school districts, colleges and universities are expecting to get between now and June. Springfield School Board Member Debbie Tolliver listened to the governor's speech to the Missouri School Boards Association and had this reaction to the governor's threat to cut education funding.

Even though the governor called on school board members to lobby their senators and representatives, Tolliver says she's not a big fan of the governor's plan to borrow money through the tobacco settlement.

Despite her reservations, Tolliver says she will push lawmakers to adopt the governor's plan because it appears to be the most viable option for a quick fix. A quick fix indeed...The governor issed a deadline, saying lawmakers need to clear the way for borrowing money by February 15th, in time for the state to issue the bonds before June 30th.

Even if the legislature clears the way for the state to borrow money, the plan faces a vote by the board of public buildings...that's a three-person board composed of the governor, Lieutenant Governor Joe Maxwell and Attorney General Jay Nixon. Maxwell says he's not prepared to say he'll support the governor's plan to borrow the money.