JEFFERSON CITY — By a near party-line vote, the Missouri House voted Tuesday to freeze state funding for public schools in the budget year that will begin July 1.
The House voted 80-68 to reject a proposed $105 million increase in the K-12 funding formula that had been recommended by the House Budget Committee.
Rep. Maynard Wallace, R-Ozark County sponsored the rejection of the increase. Wallace — the chair of the House Education Committee and a former public school administrator — said he originally had opposed underfunding the formula but changed his mind when the state's budget shortfall situation became more apparent.
"It has to be done," Wallace said. "The absolutely worse thing is to promise schools money they wind up not getting."
While Wallace's amendment was supported by an overwhelming majority of Republicans, including the chair of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Allen Icet, R-Wildwood, two Democrats supported it: Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, and Rep. Rachel Storch, D-St. Louis.
Combined with the earlier cuts in the governor's spending plan adopted by the House Budget Committee, the House version of the budget now contains about $200 million less than the governor's original recommendation in the General Revenue report.
Since presenting that budget in January, the administration has acknowledged Gov. Jay Nixon's spending plan needed to be trimmed by about $500 million.
Some of that is $300 million from the federal government that Nixon was unsure would come to Missouri but included in his budget recommendations. After Icet and other Republicans criticized the governor for including the federal money, they included the funds in their version of the budget bills.
Earlier this month, however, Icet expressed confidence that $300 million in federal funds would be available, only requiring a $200 million cut in the governor's spending plan.
The elementary and secondary education and higher education budget bills will be given final approval Wednesday in the House.