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Missouri governor releases education funding

By Chris Blank
Associated Press / April 10, 2012
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.—Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon moved Tuesday to restore about $6.8 million previously cut from public education programs thanks to a boost in lottery sales from the recent record-high Mega Millions jackpot.

Nixon's administration said it's providing $5 million for K-12 transportation assistance. The governor already had released $3 million cut from school busing aid in February, and Tuesday's move reversed the entire $8 million that was trimmed.

Other restored funding included $200,000 for fine arts and scholars academies. Both are three-week residential programs designed to help gifted students. Nixon also released $357,500 for the Access Missouri scholarship, $659,783 for the A+ Schools program, $300,000 for math and science tutoring and $100,000 for an early literacy program.

The governor made the education cuts because of budget concerns when signing the current year's spending plan into law this past summer. His administration said Tuesday the cuts could be restored because of additional revenue collected during the recent uptick in lottery sales.

"These funds will be put to immediate use by our school districts for the vital task of bringing children safely to and from school, even as districts face the challenge of rising fuel prices and also will support important learning opportunities in the arts and other fields," Nixon said.

Funding restored for the current year's budget came as the Senate Appropriations Committee was to resume work on the 2013 budget that takes effect July 1. The committee devoted several days to the budget last week and was to keep working on the state spending plan. The Legislature faces a May 11 deadline to approve a budget and send it to Nixon.

So far, senators have developed plans to keep funding steady for higher education while offering a small boost to public school districts. The Appropriations Committee also has proposed limiting raises for state workers who earn less than $45,000 a year, and tapping a state labor department fund to help pay Missouri's debt to the federal government for jobless benefits.

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