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Lawmakers agree to raise funds for public schools
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's public schools would get at least a $110 million increase next year under an agreement reached Wednesday night by House and Senate budget negotiators.
Elementary and secondary education could get an additional $44 million, but only if the Senate passes pending legislation to raise taxes or eliminate some existing tax breaks.
The breakthrough agreement on school funding came as budget negotiators worked to wrap up work on the fiscal 2003 budget, which takes effect July 1. Lawmakers face a 6 p.m. Friday deadline to send the budget to Gov. Bob Holden.
Complicating negotiations was a recent announcement that a $230 million shortfall in the current budget is likely to reduce revenue by a similar amount in fiscal 2003. That sent lawmakers scrambling to make last-minute cuts to some programs to balance the budget. But lawmakers never considered a funding decrease for public schools, which this year received a base of $2 billion.