MO Statehouse
4:59 pm
Fri January 21, 2011

Nixon talks education with reporters

Governor Jay Nixon spent a few minutes with reporters in Jefferson  City today, answering questions about education and other topics.

First, he defended his proposal that K-12 public schools in Missouri use $122 million in federal funds for the 2011-12 school year.  Doing so will enable the state to cut the same amount of money from its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins in July.

"Our school districts have reserves, they manage budgets well, they have various inputs of dollars," Nixon said.  He then cracked, "I think it's much easier for them to manage money than to manage no money."

Nixon says his office will work with K-12 schools to make sure they have enough funding to avoid cuts to classrooms going on in other states.

He recently came under criticism by both House Republicans and Democrats for withholding $70 million in funding for school buses.  But Nixon also released a portion of that funding the same day.

Meanwhile, tuition at colleges and universities across Missouri are expected to be higher this fall, and it will likely be blamed on Governor Nixon's proposed seven percent cut to the state's higher education budget.  He told reporters that as painful as the cut may be, it's necessary.

"We have to balance the budget," Nixon said.  "You have to make sure what comes in and what goes out are equal, but we sit here in a pretty strong position (in) our state as we move forward."

Last year, state universities and community colleges in Missouri agreed to a five percent budget cut in exchange for not raising tuition for the current school year.  It was the second year in a row that Governor Nixon and higher education officials arranged to hold tuition levels in place.