Before the 2010-2011 school year started, President Obama signed legislation that would provide $10 billion to assist states in paying the salaries of public school staff. However, this federal spending -- a major point of concern for voters during the mid-term elections -- has some Missouri lawmakers in a quandary.
Some legislators say Missouri should stand up in principle and refuse the federal dollars, which for Missouri totals $189 million. Some would like to hold the money for next year. Others would prefer using the federal dollars to replace state funding next year.
While lawmakers debate the issue, the fact remains that Missouri schools have made the necessary budget cuts -- a step that needed to be made when considering Missouri's lagging tax revenue in recent years.
The bottom line in this issue is that the federal government has spent too much for too long on too many issues. We've seen bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., pick winners and losers, and this process must stop. Using temporary federal funding is not a long-term solution.
Nevertheless, the federal dollars have been allocated, and should Missouri reject these dollars, they will be sent to other states.
As lawmakers look to address this issue, they would be wise to examine the parameters of how the money can be used. If allowed, holding the funding in a rainy-day fund to prevent further cuts in education would be the smart move.