Missouri tax bill override effort could cut school budgets - KCTV5

Missouri tax bill override effort could cut school budgets

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LEE'S SUMMIT, MO (KCTV) -

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will be in Lee's Summit on Tuesday to talk to the community, teachers and administrators about the impact of House Bill 253. It would lower the state income tax from 6 percent to 5.5 percent over a 10-year span.

Nixon vetoed the bill saying it's fiscally irresponsible. But members of the general assembly have pledged to override his veto in September, saying it will grow business.

According to the Missouri Association of School Administrators, HB 253 could mean drastic cuts to funding for kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms and would make higher education out of reach for most families. The Independence School District would take the biggest financial hit if it passes, which means hundreds of jobs and education programs are on the chopping block.

"There will be days that are good, there will be days that are great, there will be days that are really tough," said Independence School District Superintendent Dr. Dale Herl.

The new superintendent of the school district is bracing for the tough days. HB 253 is posed to reduce Missouri's income tax by half a percent over a 10-year period, but it's expected to also cut the quality of education.

"For the Independence School District, that is a cut that we would see annually of about $5.8 million and, on top of that, there is the Marketplace Fairness Act that is a piece of the 253 legislation and, if that passes at the federal level, that would be another $9.9 million cut that we would see, and that would be a one-time cut," Herl said.

The Missouri Association of School Administrators came out with those figures. Missouri schools would lose as much as $450 million this school year plus $260 million each year.

If HB 253 passes, Herl's district would be more affected than any other district in the state.

"Any time you have this size of cut, everything is on the chopping block," he said.

Hundreds of teachers' jobs are at stake.

"On a conservative side, if it all passes, more than 300 (jobs)," Herl said.

That equals about a seventh of the staff, and Herl said that's just one district in the state.

"So we would be looking at larger class sizes, fewer opportunities for our kids and then you have to look at some other programs where we would have to start reducing ... a lot of our transportation routes," he said.

The growing district is capped at its local tax levy. It already cut three-quarters of a million federal dollars from its budget this year due to sequestration.

Herl said there is only one solution to keep the same level of education if HB 253 passes.

"We would have to go to our taxpayers and ask them to increase the levy on their property taxes," he said.

He said the bill hurts more than it helps.

"A lot of people think that this would be a huge windfall for individuals within the state. Really what you're looking at is a half-percent reduction in income tax and that means, for a typical family of four that has a household medium income of $48,000, that's about a hamburger a month - about $6," Herl said.

KCTV5's Erika Tallan reached out to Grow Missouri, which put out many television commercials supporting HB 253.

The group of business owners did not get back to her but, according to its website, the tax cut could boost business in Missouri.

If you want to sound off on this issue, people can attend the meeting where Nixon is speaking. It's Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Stansberry Leadership Center at 301 NE Tudor Rd. in Lee's Summit.

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