For Immediate Release:
June 26, 2015
Contact: Matt Michelson
(573) 751-2272

Senate Leaders Question Ability To Work With Governor On Education Issues After Presumed Veto of Student Transfer Bill

Measure Was Two Years in the Making With Input From Governor’s Office

JEFFERSON CITY— After two years of working with the governor’s office on important legislation to provide students across Missouri access to a quality education, the state’s top official is expected to veto the bill today (6-26).

“Even though we believed we were working together, at the end of the day, the governor is deciding to veto this bipartisan bill,” said Education Chairman and bill handler Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg.

For the past two sessions, the General Assembly worked diligently to address one of the most pressing problems facing our state, the failure to provide children access to a quality education in their own communities. The current law, passed in 1993, allows students to transfer to surrounding districts if they attend an unaccredited school district, but the law didn’t provide a system of how these transfers would take place. This situation has led to hundreds of kids traveling substantial distances in order to find the education they deserve and thousands more stuck in failing districts.

In 2014, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 493 which was ultimately vetoed by the governor. In his veto letter, he spelled out four objections. The Legislature took his objections to heart, returned this session, and passed House Bill 42 in the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 23-11. The legislation, which addressed the concerns in his veto letter, dealt with school accreditation and tackled some of the challenges confronting districts in the school transfer process.

In addition, the governor provided nine more requests in a memo to legislators as a framework of necessary provisions for him to sign the bill. House Bill 42 addressed eight out of the nine points the governor raised. However, in spite of the months of bipartisan work that went in the legislation, the governor still intends to veto the bill.

“We responded to his veto message on Senate Bill 493 last year,” said bill handler Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg. “We listened to his concerns, and we made changes. The governor gave us nine points he wanted us to achieve in the bill. We succeeded in completing eight of them. A veto is a significant setback for some of Missouri’s most vulnerable children. It’s sad that the real victims in this veto are the children who remain trapped in failing school districts. Apparently the governor is content to allow a child’s zip code to determine whether they have access to educational opportunities.”

“We have tried to work with the governor and his staff,” said Senate Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles. “We’ve spent numerous hours coming up with a plan on how to make this measure work. We worked in good faith for the future of children in this state.”

Senate leaders expressed concern that the agreement announced by the governor and local school districts in St. Louis earlier this week lacks real accountability, has no enforcement mechanism, and provides little more than a “fig leaf” to mask deeper issues.

The Senate will convene again for the annual veto session on Sept. 16, 2015. At that time, a decision whether to override the governor’s veto will be made. To learn more about these bills or to track the progress, visit