Concerned about the effects on the school district over the latest state budget impasse between Gov. Jay Nixon and the state legislature, Dist. 160 State Rep. Bill Reiboldt of Neosho was invited to speak before the Neosho R-5 board of education during a study session Thursday evening.
Among over $1.1 billion in budget adjustments for the new fiscal year that began in July, Reiboldt said the governor withheld or vetoed over $100 million that was dedicated toward education.
He told school board members, “It’s difficult trying to make a budget out, trying to plan for a year when we who are in Jefferson City are still wrangling over the money that we have already appropriated.”
Reiboldt reported that revenues for 2014 are one percent below projections, so he can understand some withholdings, but once vetoed, that money is gone until next year.
He feels the governor overreacted to the situation. Reiboldt said the Republican caucus asked the governor to make his withholds but to leave education alone, which Reiboldt was in favor of as administrators try to budget for the new school year.
“The uncertainty, I just don’t believe that’s necessary, but that’s the way he chooses to play this game,” he said.
Reiboldt said the game is being played mostly over 10 tax cut bills approved by the legislature and vetoed by the governor, which he continued were not rushed through on the last day as the governor has suggested. Reiboldt said the governor has stated he will restore the education money if the legislature would decide to not override his vetoes.
“We didn’t want the governor to play ball this way,” he said. “We wanted to give the money that we appropriated and move on and deal with this other stuff and then you have your money.”
Discussion ensued that the vetoed tax cuts could lead to decreased revenues for the district. Responding to board member Steven Douglas comment that it is scary for school boards, Reiboldt said, “That’s his tactics, it’s scare tactics.”
Reiboldt explained that the governor has only talked with Republican legislators a couple of times, and doesn’t talk much with Democrats.
“He is the most secretive governor in the history of our state,” retorted Reiboldt, “and it’s almost impossible to deal with the man.”
Reiboldt said he doesn’t think Missouri’s finances are as bad as the governor is trying to make it, but said he would be back to eat crow if he is wrong.
Brett Day, board president, said Reiboldt was asked to come before the board because they want him to look closely at some of those tax cut measures approved by the legislature and vetoed by the governor. If they were to consider a veto override, Day said some of those have some potentially far-reaching consequences for the school district.
Day said the board wanted to remind Reiboldt how dependent Neosho schools are on the foundation formula and on Proposition C revenues.
“It depends on whose numbers you use, the numbers we get from the Missouri School Boards Association is that we could lose up to a half million dollars in Prop C money and another $700,000 or so in foundation money, so somewhere around $1.2 million for next year,” Day said. “That’s a lot for us.”
After speaking with their state representative, Day said, “Part of the problem is, he’s right about this as far as the give and take on both sides of the aisle here – withholding monies and doing the tax cuts and so forth. It’s hard for us to budget in that atmosphere, we’ll do the best we can.”
Reiboldt told the board he would not do anything to hurt education. He noted that several meetings are planned with legislators this summer and he will come back to the school board with updated information before making his vote in the annual late summer veto session. Reiboldt promised he will vote the district, as he always gets the feel of his legislative district before voting on their behalf.
Day responded, “I’m going to take him for his word.”