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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Hard financial times require cuts by all

Friday, October 17, 2003

Rarely would I say these words, but the administration of Gov. Bob Holden is absolutely correct in their interpretation governing the ability of the governor to withhold education funding in the wake of a budget crisis.

That's exactly what Holden did when he withheld $190 million from the education budget in Missouri this year to help balance the books of state government.

Holden's move was challenged in court by a dozen Kansas City school districts that wanted their full share of the education funding approved by the Legislature. But Holden recognized the upcoming budget shortfall and made cuts in every area of state funding.

The lawsuit is now before the courts which, I believe, will rule that a seated governor does indeed have the full power to withhold funding in such times. Should the courts rule in favor of the school districts - which is unlikely - unbelievable cuts would have to be made elsewhere or voters would have to hastily approve some additional tax revenue source. Neither option is likely.

The issue goes deeper than a question of law. To argue against maximum funding for education seems akin to all of the other emotionally-charged issues of society. You simply cannot, from a political standpoint, argue against education funding without jeopardizing your political future. But I don't have a political future so I can certainly argue against the money grab by the school districts.

Education funding is extremely important. But is it more important than public safety? Is it more important than health care? You make the argument.

The education community must learn - as we all must learn - to live within their means. If that means unpopular reductions in spending then so be it. Those reduction don't have to come at the expense of textbooks or teachers. It could mean less administration staff for example. But that's really just the beginning.

Tight economic times call for sacrifices in all categories. And that includes education. It may not be popular but it's the right thing to do at the right time. And this time, Bob Holden got it right.

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