JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon announced the Friday before Memorial Day weekend that he will veto SB493. The school transfer bill sought to create solutions for students who are living in unaccredited school districts and was passed last week.
Legislators and lobbyists agree that the bill was the best product that was possible mostly because of the collaboration between chambers and are reacting unfavorably to the announcement.
“I am extremely disappointed by the governor’s decision to use one stroke of his veto pen to undo the hundreds of hours that members of both parties invested in developing a bipartisan solution that puts the needs of children first,” bill sponsor and Budget Chairman Rick Stream, R-St. Louis, said. “The governor was completely absent throughout this process and never once even pretended that fixing our failing school districts was a priority. By vetoing the bill today he has condemned districts to bankruptcy and closure. It’s a shame that he has once again demonstrated a complete lack of leadership on an issue of such great importance.”
LT. Gov. Peter Kinder also called on the governor’s inaction during the legislative process on Twitter, tweeting, “Nixon never engaged on #moleg school transfer bill. Now he’ll veto. #shame #disgrace.”
“The governor’s decision to veto a truly bipartisan education reform bill is extremely disappointing as it leaves the young people in our struggling school districts without a viable solution,” Speaker of the House Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said. This is a governor who has again failed to lead on one of the most important issues facing our state, and has in fact chosen to remain completely disengaged from this process. I know my colleagues on the House side, as well as Senators Chappelle-Nadal, Nasheed and Curls, who worked very hard with us and across party lines, all share my frustration as this governor offers no solutions but instead stands in the way of our efforts to give kids a choice and access to a great education.”
“Generally speaking, I think 493, the school [transfer] bill, was tremendous,” Brent Hemphill, principal at Hemphill and Associates, said. “The House and the Senate worked well together in trying to fix the problem.”
“Senate Bill 493 fails to address the challenges resulting from the existing school transfer law and instead, would create even more problems by allowing public funds to be used for private schools and pulling the rug out from under students who have transferred,” Gov. Nixon said in a press release.
Mark Rhodes, lobbyist at the Rhodes Group called the bill, “a hard-fought measure that addresses the school transfer of students attending a state non-accredited K-12 school.”
“This complex issue and solution was a continuous battle of ideas,” Rhodes said. “The bill provides that students who have attended an unaccredited school for at least one semester to transfer to an accredited school in the same district. If no slots are available, the student could then transfer to an accredited school in an adjacent district or adjoining county. If that option is not available, the student could transfer to a private, nonreligious school within the boundaries of the district, if voters in the sending district approve.”
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.