With the state legislative special session looming, the talk of overriding House Bill 253 has prompted some lake area school districts and their superintendents to join other educators from across the state who are raising a red flag that HB 253 could harm local schools.
Camdenton and Versailles school boards have passed resolutions urging members of the state legislature to sustain the governor's veto.
School of the Osage did not take a position.
"We do not have a stance either way. It is hard to discern which side's 'numbers' are most correct, and without a degree in taxation, it's difficult to interpret. We will leave the politics to the politicians and place our energy in educating children," Osage Superintendent
Brent Depeé said.
Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis said the district did not take a position.
Davis said, "I am not in favor of anything that would take money away from the school district."
Versailles Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson said the question she has been asked most often is 'what is HB253?'
Her response is HB253 is a rather complicated tax cut proposal that is more than 170 pages long. It reduces the corporate income tax from 6.25% to 3.25% over 10 years and reduces the personal income tax rate from 6% to 5.5% over 10 years. In addition, it has been tied to the Marketplace Fairness Act on the federal level so that if the federal piece of legislation should
pass, HB253 will cut an additional .5% from personal income taxes, she said.
"A few other things that were written into the bill were a tax raise on prescription medications and an elimination of deductions for textbooks and tuition for college students. Like most people, I’m always favorable to paying less in taxes myself, but I do have some concern how this bill will affect services such as K-12 education, higher education, public safety and health," she said.
The fiscal note provided by the legislature when they passed this bill was that it would cost the State of Missouri approximately $700 million dollars in revenue when enacted. The estimates Ryerson received from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is a reduction to K-12 education of $260 million.
"For the Morgan County R-II School District this translates to $144,423. If the Marketplace Fairness Act passes Congress, the impact on K-12 education becomes $450 million dollars in lost revenue. For the Morgan County R-II School District this is a total loss of $249,963 to our budget," Ryerson said.
In an article last February, Ryerson detailed the cuts the Morgan County R-II School District has faced since the 2009-2010 school year. The school district has lost (from all sources combined) a total of $887,575.56 in revenue.
Page 2 of 2 - "We have made proportionate cuts in our expenditures during the same years and have been fortunate that we have not had to cut jobs or programs in order to do so. We have taken advantage of retirements and people leaving the district for various reasons to help ensure we are not top heavy or overloaded on staff," Ryerson said.
In addition, the district has limited travel to a 60 mile radius (except conference schools)
for all sports to ensure they are not incurring too much transportation cost and have eliminated pep buses from long-distance events. The district has frozen salaries in the past, eliminated summer school, refrained or limited the purchase of new buses, and cut supply lines drastically.
"In total, approximately 22 full time positions have been eliminated since 2009-2010. The loss of even $144,423 in revenue is the equivalent of 4.2 base teaching positions," she said. "We are beginning to reach a point that additional revenue will be needed to sustain the programs we have in place. From this viewpoint, it does not make sense to continue to erode the revenue the state has on which to operate."
According to a recent press release from Gov. Jay Nixon's office, an analysis from the Missouri State Teachers Association, the Missouri National Education Association, and AFT-Missouri shows that cuts resulting from HB 253 to public school budgets "would be the equivalent of eliminating between 5,438 and 9,411 teachers.
About the bill:
Promoted as "tax cut bill" by legislators who supported the bill, others say if the will do a lot more "cutting" than the name suggests. The bill has become a "political football."
The General Assembly is scheduled to resume on Sept. 11.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. T.J. Berry and co-sponsored by House Speaker Tim Jones.
The bill changed the laws regarding the streamlined sales and use tax agreement and changed the rules regarding other types of taxes.
HB 253 is an act "to repeal section 143.071, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to the taxation of business income," according to the bill summary, listed at http://www.house.mo.gov/billsummary.aspx?bill=HB253.
Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill, setting off a controversial debate over benefits of the changes in the various taxes versus the impact on education and prescription drugs.