- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a measure Wednesday that would cap the targets state government uses to fund public K-12 schools, chiding legislators for approving a “broken promise” to students he said will pave the way for them to enact more tax breaks.

Senators voted 25-7 hours later to override Nixon, but two-thirds of House members still must vote in order to pass it into law. The measure previously passed with enough votes in the House to override the governor.

The measure would limit the growth of what’s called the state adequacy target, which lawmakers use when setting goals for how much money schools should receive. Although it wouldn’t limit spending, it would mean the target couldn’t increase by more than 5 percent every two years.

The move to change that formula comes after the Legislature and governor have failed to meet funding goals for schools for years. The formula used to determine how much money lawmakers should aim to spend on basic aid for K-12 schools included a 5 percent cap when legislators created it in 2005. Lawmakers dropped the cap in 2009, hoping to receive more money from gambling that never came.

“Senate Bill 586 would provide cover for legislators to turn their backs on our local schools by passing even more reckless tax breaks that will further erode funding for education and require local taxpayers to shoulder more of the financial burden to provide our children with a quality education,” said Nixon, who announced the veto at a Ferguson school. That prompted one lawmaker to criticize Nixon for using those students as “props.”

Basic aid for K-12 schools next fiscal year falls more than $400 million short of funding goals in the spending plan lawmakers passed this year, even with a proposed $71 million increase.

“That money’s not there,” said Republican Rep. David Wood, who led the effort in the House. “It hasn’t been there.”

Funding would only be about $54 million short under the proposal Nixon vetoed. The bill also would expand access to money to educate preschoolers to charter schools if lawmakers meet funding goals.

Supporters say the change will make meeting targeted basic aid for schools more feasible and give lawmakers more of an incentive to reach those goals.

University City Democrat Sen. Maria Chapelle-Nadal on Wednesday slammed Nixon for the veto. She also criticized the governor for announcing his action in Ferguson, where a white police officer fatally shot black 18-year-old Michael Brown in 2014. That drew international attention to the St. Louis suburb and spurred sometimes violent demonstrations.

“The governor didn’t bother to show up when Ferguson was on fire, yet today he had no problem using the children of Ferguson as a politically expedient prop,” she said in a statement. “He literally vetoed the bill in front of the very children the legislation was designed to help.”

She was the only Democrat to join Republican senators in voting to override Nixon.

Assistant House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty in a statement says the measure shows the GOP-led Legislature has failed to meet funding goals. She called on House Republicans to “reject their past failures and instead join with us to do whatever is necessary to finally fulfill our commitments to Missouri’s children.”

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Missouri school funding bill is SB 586.

Online:

Senate: http://www.senate.mo.gov

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Follow Summer Ballentine at https://twitter.com/esballentine

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