House Wisely Overrides Veto on Funding Formula Cap
Yesterday, the Missouri house voted 113-43 to override Gov. Nixon’s veto of SB 586, which reinstates a 5% cap on the growth of the foundation formula target for education spending in the state. This follows the Senate’s 25-7 override vote on the same measure. To borrow from Martha Stewart: this is a good thing.
When Missouri’s funding formula was rewritten in 2005, lawmakers prudently placed a limit on just how much the state’s obligation to fund education could grow from year to year. In 2009, believing gambling tax revenue was going to flush the system full of cash, lawmakers removed the cap, and the amount has grown and grown to an absurd degree. This year, the formula required almost $500 million more than the state was willing to pay.
My colleague James Shuls has been all over this issue for years. As he wrote recently:
When I make a payment on my credit card debt, the next month’s payment is lower. However, when lawmakers increase funding for the foundation formula, it triggers an increase in the funding that will be required for the next go-round. This occurs because the formula is updated bi-annually based on how much a select group of districts spend per pupil. The legislature gives districts more money, the formula gets recalculated based on this new spending, and the target moves ever upward.
We have created a vicious circle in which more spending begets more spending.
Now, the legislature is considering reinstating the five-percent cap. This would not necessarily fix the perpetually increasing funding cycle, but it would slow it down. It would make it more feasible for lawmakers to fully fund the foundation formula.
Ending the vicious cycle is a great first step. Here’s hoping this turns the legislature’s attention to broader issues of education reform, like the ones we outlined in 20 for 2020.