Missouri lawmakers have passed legislation that could patch a hole in the state budget for early childhood programs and health care for the blind.
A bill given final approval Friday would transfer $55 million from general revenues into a new fund to finance the programs. The move was necessary because the 2014 budget passed last week by lawmakers called for funding the programs with savings from the repeal of a tax break for low-income seniors and disabled residents who live in rental housing.
The future of early childhood education programs like Head Start hangs in the air as recent federal budget cuts, or sequestration, will eliminate resources aimed to provide low-income families a quality foundation for the beginning of a child’s education. The most recent cuts have put Columbia Public Schools in the position of funding two instructional aides.
In his State of the State Address, Gov. Jay Nixon outlined his proposal to boost funding for early childhood education by $17 million, saying, “early childhood education is a smart investment, with a big return.”