By Ashley Jost
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In an effort to combat funding cuts to the Department of Defense due to scheduled automatic budget cuts, a small coalition of lawmakers announced Thursday their efforts to expand the Show-Me Heroes Education fund.
House Budget Committee Chairman Rick Stream, R-Kirksville, announced new funding for the program Thursday during a press conference, stating that the hope is for this fund within the state budget to offset the loss of tuition assistance for Missouri National Guard members from the federal government.
“Over the last 72 hours, we made a commitment to identify funding to ensure that our student soldiers and airmen in the Army National Guard will not lose half or all of their tuition due to sequestration cuts,” he said.
Part of the effort involved the appropriation of the funds during the House Budget Committee’s mark up last week, for the program amounting to $2.5 million of the necessary $4.5 million that’s needed to completely fund the program.
Additionally, Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, sponsored House Bill 857, which would establish the new fund.
Stream said $1.5 million came from the general revenue fund, and an additional $1 million was appropriated during the committee’s Wednesday meeting. A portion of that $1 million was given by higher education fund.
Rep. Jeff Grisamore, R-Lee’s Summit, who has three sons either enrolled or will be during the coming months with the Army National Guard, said the loss of the federal tuition assistance would affect 1,400 Missouri students.
“Our hope is that federal assistance will be restored,” Stream added. “If that does not happen, we’re committed to offset that loss.”
HB857 was referred to the Veterans Committee Thursday, and is not yet on the hearing calendar.
To contact Ashley Jost, email firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @ajost.
Ashley Jost is no longer with The Missouri Times. She worked as the executive editor for several months, and a reporter before that.