Thursday, August 14, 2014
The Fulton Public Schools Board of Education unanimously approved during its Wednesday meeting to send a letter to State Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, expressing concern over legislation the board and Superintendent Jacque Cowherd believe would harm Proposition C funding.
Cowherd first publicly expressed his concerns over sales-tax related bills, along with other city and county officials, during Gov. Jay Nixon’s visit to Fulton High School on Aug. 1. Nixon vetoed the bills, citing tax breaks to special interest groups.
Rep. Mike Cierpiot, Assistant Majority Floor Leader, told the Fulton Sun that the bills in question were discussed at the Republican caucus, which was held in Kansas City. Cierpiot said he distributed information — including Nixon’s veto letter, a rebuttal to his veto and literature from the Associated Industries of Missouri — during the caucus.
Bill sponsors also defended their legislation while opponents also spoke up, he said. The Republican caucus didn’t take a vote on override actions, and Cierpiot said legislators are now taking time to read over information to determine how they will vote come veto session on Sept. 10.
Based on information from the Department of Revenue, Cowherd reported to the board that the district could lose more than $223,000 of Proposition C revenue. In 1996, voters approved a measure giving all Prop C funding to the schools, which the letter states is known as the “full waiver.”
When passed, Prop C gave a portion of revenue to schools and another to lowering property taxes. Because of the “full waiver” vote, Fulton Public Schools gained 100 percent of Prop C revenue and have been able to “maintain a stable tax rate,” according to the letter.
“If we had to go to our community today and ask to replace that, that’s a 13-and-1/4-cent tax levy increase,” Cowherd said during Nixon’s visit.
In the 2012-2013 academic year, Fulton Public Schools received $1.76 million from Prop C funds. That number increased to $1.88 million the following year. FPS has budgeted for $1.85 million in Prop C funds for the upcoming year, but that could be adjusted to $1.62 million if the General Assembly overrides Nixon’s vetoes, according to information Cowherd supplied for the Fulton Sun.
Prop C funds are state distributed but are considered local revenue. Major sources of state revenue come from the basic formula, gaming funds and transportation.
Fulton’s school board is now the fourth entity in Callaway County requesting local legislators to support Nixon’s vetoes. At its Tuesday meeting, the Fulton City Council adopted a resolution in support of Nixon’s vetoes. Wanting more information, the council tabled the resolution during its July meeting.
The Holts Summit Board of Aldermen passed a similar resolution in May, and the Callaway County Commission has stated previously that the legislation would have a negative impact — the DOR estimated a more than $400,000 cut — to the county. The Callaway County Ambulance District board has also discussed support for the vetoes, but has not taken a vote.
Riddle did not return a phone call from the Fulton Sun on Wednesday, but in a prior press release stated her commitment to addressing bills that could affect Callaway County’s local governments and that she “will take action that best protects our communities and taxpayers.”
Legislators who represent Callaway County — Riddle, Rep. Jay Houghton, R-Martinsburg, and Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City — voted in favor of all the bills worrying local officials.
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