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Missouri Gov. Parson announces deep cuts to education funding, addresses civil unrest

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will see $131 million in cuts

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson laid out budget cuts totaling $209 million, with the deepest cuts impacting education.

“It goes without saying that COVID-19 has had severe impacts on our anticipated economic growth," Parson said during his briefing Monday afternoon. "This is truly unlike anything we have ever experienced before, and we are now expecting significant revenue declines."

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will see a budget cut of $131 million and the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development will see a $41 million cut.

It's unclear how the cuts will impact school districts yet.

"This will rest with local decisions," said DESE Director Margie Vandeven said.

Missouri school districts will receive $187 million in federal CARE Act funding, which will help offset some of the cuts at the state level, Vandeven said.

Parson waived Section 163.031.7, RSMo. This statute grants some school districts a “hold harmless” status and allows them to not be affected by a budget shortfall. The waiver of this statute means hold harmless districts are not exempt from budget cuts. All local education agencies, including charter schools, will share proportionately in this budget shortfall.

Other departments across the state will also see cuts including the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Prior to speaking about the budget, Parson also addressed the civil unrest across the state.

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd," Parson said. "What happened to him was very wrong and it has filled Americans everywhere with sadness, grief and anger."

Parson said he supports peaceful demonstrations, but said the violence drowns out the legitimate message of protesters.

"Violence and destruction is not the answer," he said. "Instead, it terrorizes innocent people and families."

Due to the protests and unrest, Parson declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard and Highway Patrol to be able to assist local authorities.

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