Capitol Report
Senator Delbert Scott

For Immediate Release

For Immediate Release

April 15, 2004 


Welcome But Late Release


            During the legislature’s Easter Break the governor released $127 million that he had withheld from appropriated education funds. This is good new for the children of the state of Missouri. The withholding of education funds caused a great deal of concern, loss of jobs, and pain across the state of Missouri, particularly in the 28th Senate District.

                        The issue of releasing the withheld education funds came to front and center during the State of the State Address issued by Governor Holden during a joint legislative session in January. During his presentation, he outlined a lengthy list of proposals to generate 500 million tax new dollars, $140 million of which was earmarked for education.

Following, the completion of the state budget during special session last year, Governor Holden announced, to the surprise of many, that he was withholding education funds to help balance the budget. Immediately, the withholding appeared to be a grown adult temper tantrum to “punish” the legislature for not approving a long list of proposed tax increases. The problem with this tantrum is that it held school budgets hostage all across the state to try and prove the point that the legislature was mean spirited and did not like education. The effect of the action actually proved the point of Senate and House members who continued to disagree with the governor’s office over the improving condition of the state’s budget.

            This whole issue then begs the question, why now? Although, I am very grateful for the release, it should have happened months ago. In addition, why was it made three days after 114 schools had bond proposals on the ballot? I believe the announcement vindicates the economy projections of the House and Senate, and proves the point that the withholding was done for political purposes. It seems ironic that the amount of the withholding and the amount of the proposed tax increase for education are very similar.

Growth in the 2004 budget has exceeded and continues to exceed the estimates of legislative budget planners. Projected growth of 3.2 percent has actually accelerated to 5.1 percent through the first nine months of this fiscal year. In addition, the March jobs report shows 18,000 jobs were added last month in Missouri. Furthermore, economists are predicting a continued steady recovery. We continue to be grateful for the string of good news.

I trust this will signal the end of using Missouri Children at political pawns in a funding dispute. The legislature continues to have an obligation to adequately fund public education. I don’t take this responsibility lightly, and trust that all parties will do their best to keep the interest of the students ahead of political gain.