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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fully fund state's education programs

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

"Education is everyone's turf"

By now you've heard that the state of Missouri is struggling with an unbalanced budget. That means that many state programs are in jeopardy of budget cuts and some select programs may well end a slow and painful death. Now all of this news isn't bad because some of these programs needed strict review while others should have been axed years ago.

In a twist of irony, a Senate committee on Tuesday voted to restore most funding to the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) tests which are under way in the state this week. The Sikeston Chamber of Commerce and a handful of others across the state were out in force this week to raise awareness of the annual tests. It seems only appropriate that these important tests should gain their full funding.

But to make room for these new test dollars, some scholarship funding may well be cut. One of the potential programs earmarked for a budget cut is the Bright Flight Scholarships which are awarded to the top 3 percent of the academically gifted. We'd hate to see this programs reduced by one penny. These funds help to fund the higher education of the best of the best and surely sufficient dollars can be found to fully fund this program even if it means deeper cuts elsewhere.

There is never an easy way to reduce state spending although in any given year I believe virtually all programs can be inched downward. Education always becomes the focal point of heated debate because that is the one area of funding that is usually above the reductions. But not in this budget year. That illustrates just how tight the state's financial picture has become.

I'd be willing to bet there is enough fat in state government to fully fund all education programs without sacrificing in any area of essential need. But what I might define as essential need may well vary from an urban legislator for example. And in a tight budget year, politicians work overtime to protect their turf.

Education is everyone's turf. So the Legislature should resolve to fully fund education programs including the Bright Flight program. That's certainly not asking too much given the $19 billion state budget.



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