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.
Missouri's transportation director says the state is nearing a crisis in highway funding and may have to turn away federal dollars unless it comes up with more of its own money for roads.
Department Director Kevin Keith told The Associated Press on Monday the agency now believes it must make about $300 million in cost cuts to free up enough state money to match federal highway dollars over the next five years. The department last year had set a goal of $200 million of savings.
Updated 3:29 p.m. March 15, 2011 with information from committee meeting.
A Missouri House committee has opted not to try to increase funding for school busing and the state's A+ scholarship program.
Some lawmakers had distributed amendments Tuesday that would have provided about $35 million of additional money for public school transportation. But the committee did not vote on any of those amendments Tuesday.
Questions are being raised after St. Louis' Paideia Academy closed and kept nearly a half-million dollars in leftover money.
Missouri education officials say state regulators didn't have the authority to take back unspent money. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a federal investigation is under way, and that the state auditor's office has also asked questions.