- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate’s top budgeter said Tuesday that he wants to put a break on House plans to provide more money to K-12 public schools as a money-saving bill to end a tax break for seniors and disabled renters works its way through the Legislature.

The House budget plan for the next fiscal year beginning in July calls for about $48 million more for elementary and secondary schools - the full amount of basic aid called for under a state law after lawmakers lowered the bar last year.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Dan Brown undid that proposed increase, although the Rolla Republican said at least some of that money will be restored later. Brown said the extra money for schools depends on the proposal to eliminate tax breaks for seniors and disabled renters, so he wants to see if that legislation progresses.

Brown said the move also provides an opportunity to negotiate with House members.

“There’s a lot of things going on, a lot of moving parts,” he said.

The Senate budget leader has raised concerns that meeting state funding goals for elementary and secondary education will trigger state funding requirements for early childhood programs. Another bill would ease in those expenses over five years so the state isn’t immediately slammed. The measure hasn’t yet passed the Senate.

Brown said he also disagrees with a House decision to cut money for most colleges and universities by about 6.6 percent and slash the University of Missouri System 9 percent. He says that’s lopsided and wants to hash out cuts differently.

He’s siding with a House decision to restore cuts proposed by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens to school transportation funding, which Senate staff estimate would reimburse about 20 percent of schools’ expenses for busing students.

That’s roughly enough to trigger mandatory funding for another proposed program - education savings accounts. If it passes the Legislature and was signed into law, the measure would give tax breaks for donations that could then be used by parents to pay for tuition, textbooks and other expenses for children with disabilities, foster kids and children of military parents.


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