Capitol wrap-up: Week of April 13

Nixon cuts $22 million from education budget

Gov. Jay Nixon last week announced that he’ll be forced to cut back on funding for education in next year’s state budget.

Nixon said the cuts — $15.6 million for K-12 schools, $3.2 million for community colleges and $3.2 million from four-year universities — are coming out of necessity after legislators failed to appropriate the funds Nixon requested in his own budget proposal.

In January, Nixon called for $44 million toward education. But after Republican opposition questioned whether that much would be needed, lawmakers cut the governor’s number in half.

Nixon wasn’t pleased.

"These are real cuts that will affect all Missouri students, even though there is sufficient general revenue available right now to cover the shortfall and make our schools and higher education institutions whole," he said at a press conference.

But Republican legislators disputed Nixon’s numbers. Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood, has said Nixon’s higher revenue estimate for 2015 would force the state to slash funds the next year.

Nixon will now push for a similar budget amendment in 2016.

"While it is too late to fix this problem for the current fiscal year, I call on legislators to right this wrong by including that additional funding in the fiscal year 2015 budget to make up for this loss," he said.

Lawmakers plan tuition increase for undocumented college students

A proposed amendment would limit financial aid given to undocumented immigrants studying at Missouri universities.

While undocumented non-citizens are already ineligible for state and federal aid, a Shell Knob lawmaker’s effort would also prohibit them from receiving an in-state tuition discount, regardless of how long they reside in Missouri.

Its sponsor, Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, has said that the amendment would keep undocumented students from gaining an unfair advantage over documented non-residents. An undocumented immigrant on the Missouri border, he said, can at present be given a greater tuition break than someone who lives five minutes away in another state.

Fitzpatrick’s proposal comes at a time when some Missouri schools, including most St. Louis-area community colleges, have allowed undocumented students — though only those who received their high school diploma from a Missouri high school — the option of in-state tuition rates.

The amendment will be discussed this week as the Senate Appropriations Committee reviews the 2015 state budget.

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