Blunt says litigating school districts are seeking 'tax hike'
By Matt Sepic, KWMU
St. Louis – Missouri Governor Matt Blunt says a group of school districts is wasting taxpayer money on a lawsuit over education funding.
The state is phasing in a new funding formula over eight years the legislature passed last year.
The plan sets a minimum amount of spending per student. The old formula relied mainly on property tax rates.
But 237 districts are continuing litigation they begun in 2004.
They claim the new formula is worse. But Governor Blunt says their lawsuit is counterproductive.
"I think it's a good formula," Blunt said. "I think it clearly deals with the equity concerns that people have had in the past. Anybody who is still involved in litigation against the state, and using taxpayer funds to sue other taxpayers is just seeking a massive tax hike."
Blunt also praised the new formula in his State of the State address Wednesday.
But attorney Alex Bartlett, who is challenging the plan, says any perceived improvements are an illusion.
"During that eight-year period, the increase in funding that is projected is just about identical to, or a little bit less than the cost of living," Bartlett said.
However 22 districts dropped out of the lawsuit in the fall because they will get more money under the new plan.