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MO Gov. Blunt unveils budget proposal for K-12 schools

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri Governor Matt Blunt says he'll spend more money on elementary and secondary public schools during the next fiscal year.

Blunt unveiled his proposed K-12 budget at Thorp Gordon Elementary School in Jefferson City. He intends to spend $2.96 billion during Fiscal Year 2008-2009, an increase of $121 million.

"This funding provides Missouri schools, Missouri teachers, and Missouri students with the resources that they need to be successful now and in the future," Blunt said.

State Rep. Joe Aull (D, Marshall) is a former school superintendent and a long-time member of the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. He doesn't think the spending proposal goes far enough.

"Teacher salaries rank like 44th or 45th out of the 50 states, so I worry about that because we've got to keep quality teachers here...we've got to have money for early childhood programs, (and) for alternative school programs for kids that aren't succeeding in the regular school environment...then I'd like to see more money in what we call the Parents as Teachers Program," Aull said.

The answer, Aull says, is to find ways to generate more revenue. He suggests a tax increase of some sort might be necessary to adequately fund schools and other needs.