Holden says school funding, testing should be budget priority

Sunday, May 5, 2002

LAKE OZARK, Mo. -- Lawmakers should restore cuts to standardized tests and make higher school funding their top priority as they settle upon a final version of the state budget this week, Gov. Bob Holden said.

Speaking Saturday to newspaper editors, Holden said lawmakers looking for places to balance the budget should steer away from the core funding for elementary and secondary schools.

"I don't believe us cutting education funding to balance our budget is a long-term prescription for seeing this state move forward," Holden said at the annual meeting of The Associated Press Managing Editors and the Missouri Society of Newspaper Editors.

State lawmakers have until Friday to pass a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, according to the state Constitution. If they don't succeed, they would have to continue work in a special session.

One of the chief sticking points among House and Senate budget negotiators is how much of a funding increase to supply public schools.

Negotiators already have decided, however, on a 60 percent cut for the Missouri Assessment Program, the state's standardized tests. The cut, which still must be approved by the full House and Senate, would reduce MAP test funding to $5.1 million next year from the $12.8 million received this year.

The cut likely would eliminate tests for science, social studies and health and physical education. All that would remain would be tests for reading and math.

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