Nixon outlines education funding in Hannibal, Redmon responds

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited Hannibal Wednesday to discuss his plans for school funding and the upcoming fiscal year budget.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited Hannibal Wednesday to discuss his plans for school funding and the upcoming fiscal year budget.

During his visit, Nixon toured Veterans Elementary before addressing students and staff.

Nixon outlined his 2015 budget proposal which includes an additional $278 million towards K-12 public school classrooms. It's part of his 'Good Schools, Good Jobs' plan. The plan would dedicate almost $1.3 million to Hannibal public schools.

Governor Nixon said one benefit is the different ways that money can be spent.

"It's more teachers at the middle school and grade school level to get smaller class sizes, more technology, and then a good, solid investment in expanding pre-school opportunities. I'm a big believer that if kids get to kindergarten ready to learn and have some pre-school before that to help them get ready, then that's a good sign," Nixon said.

"On all levels, these folks have concrete ways that these additional resources can make a difference for these kids in this community," he added.

The 'Good Schools, Good Jobs' plan aims to fully-fund Missouri's K-12 foundation formula by the 2016 fiscal year.

KHQA spoke with Missouri Rep. Craig Redmon (R, 4th District) for his reaction to Nixon's comments on Wednesday and the governor's State of the State Address from Tuesday.

In his address, Nixon estimated a revenue growth of 5.2 percent in his budget, but Redmon feels that number may not align with what the state can actually promise.

"Our number and the governor's number doesn't match up at all. We agree that there's going to be additional revenue, but we also are taking a much more conservative approach to that revenue number. We want to work with the governor, we think it's great that he wants to help fund public schools and we're all for that, but we just want to have a good number. We don't want to promise something to the people of Missouri and not be able to deliver that," Redmon said.

Nixon focused on growth in the state's economy as a reason for his estimate.

"We're adding jobs and seeing that unemployment rate tick down - we look forward to continuing growth. We were over our revenue estimates last year, in December of this year we had a 6.5 percent increase just in sales tax for the state meaning more people are buying stuff. So I think a 5.2 consensus revenue estimate for next year is right on where we ought to be," the Governor said.

Redmon said his initial reaction to the Governor's State of the State address was positive and that he supports additional money to education. However, Redmon is concerned with other areas of state spending coming up short and suggested a more cautious spending approach instead.

"There's always healthcare, there's always infrastructure. A lot of our state facilities are in need of repair, we've gone through some tough I think if we have extra money, we need to look at those repairs and invest them in a manner that will save the state money in the long run," he said.

But Governor Nixon maintained that education is at the forefront of his focus for the upcoming fiscal year.

"We're at a defining moment in the state. We've kept our taxes low in Missouri, we're the sixth-lowest in taxes in the country, I've cut taxes 4 times as Governor. Now that the economy is coming back, the choice before us is very clear - whether to invest these additional dollars that have come from people working hard and invest those in the place that's the best economic development tool I know which is education. I just think that while there may be some targeted things we want to do later, I do not think its time to run some risky fiscal experiment," he said.

Rep. Redmon stressed that he looks forward to his party and the governor working out budget issues. Nixon also added that there is still time to make adjustments before the budget is due.

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