Missouri lawmakers made the right decision this year when putting together the state budget for fiscal year 2020.
Their $30 billion budget for the year that begins July 1 includes an additional $61 million in core K-12 public school funding, and colleges and universities are set to get at least $1 million more compared with the current year.
For both Missouri Southern State University and Crowder College, that’s expected to translate into a slight increase in state funding next year. It will be a welcome move for the schools, which both saw their appropriations flatline — and worse, outright cut — in recent years by state leaders who put higher education on the chopping block in efforts to prioritize spending elsewhere.
The budget package as proposed includes more good news: Both schools are also set to receive one-time allocations totaling more than $2 million to expand STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, including nursing, on their campuses.
Earmarking those funds was a smart move by lawmakers, including Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage, who just wrapped his first legislative session as chairman of the House Budget Committee. By expanding nursing, dental hygiene, pre-medical and pre-dental programs locally, both Missouri Southern State University and Crowder will be positioned to train more health care professionals for the state’s workforce, helping to fill available jobs in fields projected for significant worker shortages over the next decade and fulfilling a pledge by Gov. Mike Parson to prioritize workforce development in high-demand fields.
Our legislators have done their part and have rightfully prioritized education funding. Now it’s up to the governor to also do the right thing — to sign the education budget bills without withholdings or restrictions. Our public schools, colleges and universities are worth the investment.