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Missouri governor to withhold more education funding as COVID-19 hits budget

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Missouri's public colleges and universities will get no money from the state this month and K-12 school districts will see their payments reduced, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Monday.

Parson, speaking at his regular weekday news briefing, said he is restricting another $209 million in state spending during the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Of that, $41 million is being taken from higher education and another $131 million will be restricted from K-12 education.

Several other state departments will also be affected, including the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below.

Missouri Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan said the cuts will effectively eliminate payments to colleges and universities for the month of June.

The cuts are in addition to $220 million Parson has already withheld from state departments.

Parson said the state started the year with a promising economic outlook and strong revenue projection.

“However, it goes without saying that COVID-19 has had a severe impact on our anticipated economic growth. This is truly unlike anything we have ever experienced before,” Parson said.

Parson said $123 million is being withheld from the state's Foundation Formula, used to fund public and charter schools on a per pupil basis. He said the state is waiving a regulation that keeps some districts from having their funds cut so the pain can be spread across the state.

"These were extremely difficult decisions I never thought I’d have to make in just a few months," Parson said.

Missouri Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven said the June payment to K-12 schools is being reduced by about 39 percent. Federal CARES Act funding will help with the K-12 shortfall but won't make up for the full loss, she said.

K-12 schools are set to receive about $187 million from CARES Act funds, Vandeven said. About $16 million has been sent to nearly 100 districts so far, she said.

The money can be used for any COVID-19-related expenses schools incur.

Vandeven said districts will continue to fulfill their mission.

"To our Missouri families, we will continue to educate our children," Vandeven said. "The cost of not doing so is too great."

Federal CARES Act funding for higher education is a different picture. Mulligan said colleges and universities are more restricted in using that funding, much of which had to be passed directly on to students.

The new restrictions will mean "significant hardships" for colleges and universities, she said.

In a statement sent to media, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi did not say how much money the system will lose from the withholding. However, he said budget actions such as layoffs, furloughs and pay cuts are meant to offset the losses.

"Working together, we have taken significant actions for the past few months that will mitigate the impact of this latest announcement," Choi said. "We remain focused on having in-person operations in the Fall and keeping the University of Missouri the strong, public institution that Missourians rely on to educate the future leaders of our state and nation.”

Protests and civil unrest

Protesters on N. 7th Street in downtown Columbia outside of a Columbia Police Department building on Sunday, May 31. ABC 17 News

Parson started his briefing by addressing protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police last week.

"What happened to him was very wrong and it has filled Americans everywhere with sadness, grief and anger," Parson said.

However, violence seen in major cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis threatens to overshadow the message of change being put forward by peaceful protesters, Parson said.

Violence "terrorizes people and families" and "creates more pain and anger," Parson said.

Protests were held in cities including Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, Jefferson City, Boonville, Cape Girardeau and Warrensburg over the weekend addressing police brutality.

Similar protests have been held across the nation in the week since Floyd's death. Authorities say Floyd died after a former officer kneeled on his neck. Three other Minneapolis police officers have since been fired. Ex-officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder in Floyd's death.

Columbia / Education / Email Alert – Breaking News / Jefferson City / K-12 education / Missouri / News / Top Stories

Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.

Matt Ragsdale

Matt Ragsdale is a broadcast and digital producer at ABC 17 News.

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