JEFFERSON CITY, MO. Three Kansas City-area school districts sued the state Friday, claiming Gov. Bob Holden violated the Missouri Constitution by withholding $190 million that had been appropriated for public schools this year.
The Fort Osage, Lee's Summit and Liberty districts are asking a Cole County judge to reverse the governor's action and order the money to be distributed to schools. If that doesn't happen, "the quality of public education will be severely diminished," the lawsuit says.
At issue are cuts announced by Holden when the state fiscal year began in July. The Democratic governor contends the $19.1 billion state budget passed by the Republican-led Legislature was underfunded, forcing him to make immediate cuts to education and other government services.
The superintendent of the Liberty school district said he agreed with Holden's assertion, adding that "(Holden) has proved his commitment to education."
"The lawsuit we filed today clearly rests on the shoulders of the members of the General Assembly," even though it must name Holden as a defendant, said Liberty Supt. Scott Taveau.
Taveau and Stansberry said their districts lost about $3 million each as result of the withholdings.
Holden blamed the General Assembly and renewed a pledge to call lawmakers back for a September special session to consider ways to raise more money for education.