Missouri Business Headlines

House budget is good for education, workforce

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The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a $27.8 billion budget that prioritizes investment in efforts to improve the state’s workforce.

The House is proposing to fully fund the state’s public school funding formula for the second straight year. The bill passed by the House would boost school funding by roughly $100 million in the coming year, totaling about $3.5 billion.

This funding is distributed to school districts across the state based on school attendance and the local cost of living while also taking into consideration the amount of local support schools receive.

“We know our state’s business community is concerned about workforce readiness and whether Missouri schools are teaching students the skills they need for the jobs of today. There are several innovative legislative proposals we are pursuing to improve this, including a recently-passed bill that makes it easier for business professionals to teach special workforce classes,” said Ryan Stauffer, Missouri Chamber director of workforce and education policy. “We are pleased to see the increase in education funding for K-12 schools and we would like to thank the Missouri House for again leading on this issue and ensuring our state isn’t shortchanging our future.”

The House budget also provides stable funding for the state’s public colleges and universities. Earlier in the year, the state’s higher education community was concerned that budget discussions could bring as much as $65 million in cuts to public institutions. House budget leaders worked to avoid those reductions.

Also included in the House budget is $3 million to open two of Missouri’s four planned adult high schools. The schools would be operated by MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries. They would be structured to be compatible with the busy lives of adult students, offering free childcare and holding classes until as late as 9 p.m.

An estimated 500,000 Missouri adults have not completed their high school education, leaving them with limited employment options. There is currently no path to completing a high school diploma in Missouri after age 21.

The first two schools would open in St. Louis and Poplar Bluff. The St. Louis school could serve 236 students with the Poplar Bluff school having a capacity of 133 students. Appropriations next year could bring an additional two adult high schools online, in Columbia and Springfield.

The Missouri Chamber will continue to advocate for workforce priorities as the Missouri Senate begins its budget discussions.

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For more information, contact Stauffer at rstauffer@mochamber.com or 573.634.3511.

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