The Missouri Senate has passed a funding plan for public schools as it begins debate on a $23 billion proposed budget.
- A Senate budget bill approved Wednesday would provide schools $3 billion in basic aid next year - the same amount as this year but an estimated $179 million less than called for under the school funding formula.
Legislators and Gov. Jay Nixon say the state cannot afford to pay schools the full amount they are due.
- The Senate budget plan also would give schools $118 million in busing aid. That's $35 million less than schools were supposed to receive this year...
- But it's about $20 million more than they actually got after Nixon made budget cuts.
The Senate's budget plan still must be reconciled with a House version.
And what about higher education? Funding for those entities will also be affected in the Senate's plans.
- Missouri's public colleges and universities would take a 4.8 percent funding cut next year under a budget plan passed by the state Senate.
- The reduction approved Wednesday is less than the 7 percent cut originally proposed by Gov. Jay Nixon and passed by the House. That means the two chambers must reconcile their differences before sending a final budget plan to the governor.
Senators lessened the proposed state funding cut as part of a deal with higher education officials to soften the financial hit to students. Many institutions already are planning tuition hikes next year, but they agreed to try to increase scholarships or reduce course fees for students.
The Senate budget plan would rely on $30 million from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to help fund state scholarships.