To the editor:
As a mother, teacher and citizen, I am very disturbed at the extreme cuts Missouri Governor Mike Parson is making in our state’s education budget.
So far he has cut $432.9 million from Missouri’s budget, and plans to implement more. The majority of these cuts are coming from the education budget.
I understand Missouri has financial problems because of COVID-19, but realistically, the problems did not start there. When he and the GOP-dominated state legislature allowed tax cuts for the rich, they were setting our state up for failure. That is akin to quitting a job before you have another one in place. It was bad planning, and a slap in the face to Missouri’s working class people.
And then came the COVID-19 virus, which has only made things worse, creating huge job losses, and thus further reducing our tax base on which our budgets are built, including the public education budget.
Here is the thing: Cuts to education are counterproductive. It is going to take more money for schools to operate during COVID-19, not less money.
Governor Parson mentioned the other day in his press conference when talking about racial inequality that education is one of the best ways to decrease racial and economic inequality in our state. If the education budget is cut, that cannot happen.
And, the more the governor cuts education, the more the education of students suffers. It becomes a downward spiral. Less effective education, fewer students ready for the job market, fewer companies that want to locate in Missouri, fewer economic opportunities for Missourians.
The more forward way of thinking is to look at education as our very most sound investment. Add to the budget to improve education. Don’t take away from it.
I realize in this time of a health and economic emergency, budget cuts will have to be made. But my advice would be to make cuts everywhere but education and health.
Cut every agency, every office, including the governor’s office, by 1%. The cumulative effect is less money spent, but the sparing of our most important state asset — our young people — our future.
I urge Governor Parson to think proactively, not reactively.
Education should be our number one priority because it is the foundation for everything else.
COVID-19 will cost this state. But it should not cost us our future.
Missouri Senate candidate