- Associated Press - Thursday, March 6, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri House members approved a mid-year spending bill Thursday that includes money to keep a St. Louis County school district afloat, to offset a drop in casino tax revenues for education and to help fund the state’s Medicaid program.

The legislation would provide $5 million to prevent the unaccredited Normandy School District from becoming insolvent before the current school year ends. The district faces financial difficulties while paying tuition and transportation costs for students to leave under a state transfer law requiring it.

“The $5 million is so the kids can finish the school year,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood.

The budget measure was approved 147-7 and now goes to the Senate.

State Deputy Education Commissioner Ron Lankford told the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this week that a recent financial analysis of Normandy projected the district would end the school year with about $63,000. That leaves a small cushion.

“We don’t believe they actually have enough money to ensure they can complete the year,” Lankford said.

But Senate committee members said it does not appear Normandy needs the entire $5 million.

In addition to money for Normandy, the mid-year spending bill has $22 million to help offset a shortfall in basic school aid that has happened partly because casino tax revenues are short of projections. The bill also includes tens of millions in additional funds for the Medicaid health care program.

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