The Capitol Report | March 16th, 2017

Charter Schools, Foundation Formula, & Seniors

This week was another busy one here at the Capitol before the start of our annual spring break. Interestingly, 100 years ago today, on March 16, 1917, the 49th General Assembly of Missouri met for the first time in our current Capitol!

This week House members gave approval to legislation meant to provide young people in failing schools with additional educational opportunities. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Roeber, would allow charter schools to expand to areas where at least one school is performing poorly. The legislation would also increase the accountability and academic requirements for not only new charter schools, but existing ones as well. The final version of HB 634 is very different than the original version. HB 634 reduces the amount of funding charter schools currently receive and makes it so that no more than 90% of the child’s operating costs go to the charter school. The remaining 10% will be stay in the student’s original school district. This means that public schools end up with more dollars per student. The funding guidelines set forth by HB 634 are contingent upon the K-12 formula being fully funded. If the formula is not fully funded, then no charter school changes will go into effect. In other words, no charter school expansion is possible without a minimum of $48 million in additional funding being allocated to public schools.

Moreover, the final version of HB 634 has some of the highest accountability standards in the country. This bill will force underperforming charter schools to close. If a charter is underperforming other similar schools in their district for two of the past three years, they will be limited to a three-year charter renewal. During the three year probationary period, if a charter performs poorly during two of those three years, that charter school will be ineligible for renewal and will be forced to close. Along with this, charter schools have a built in accountability factor because enrollment is voluntary and they are always competing for students. Also, out-of-state individuals will never be allowed to serve on charter school boards in the Show-Me-State. Charter school board members are local individuals who volunteer their time and talents to help the children and communities where these charters are located.

Under HB 634, new charter schools will only be able to enter a district if one of that district’s public schools is ten points below the provisionally accredited APR level. Even if a charter school opens in a district under these circumstances, it will no longer be able to expand once the public school obtains a 60% APR level. Children in Missouri should not be forced to stay in a failing building solely because they do not live in the wrong zip code. Finally, the district school board will still have the right of first refusal to sponsor a new charter school in the district.

In other news, Missouri’s public schools would be fully funded for the first time under the budget proposal unveiled by the House Budget Committee Chairman this week. The proposed spending plan would also restore a proposed cut to in-home care and nursing home services for senior and disabled Missourians. In addition to the additional $48 million that will fully fund the School Foundation Formula, the House budget proposal restores proposed cuts to K-12 transportation funding.

The FY 2018 spending plan proposed by the House Budget Committee also restores approximately $52 million in proposed cuts that would have impacted 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians who currently qualify for state-funded in-home care and nursing home services. The House Budget Committee will work to finalize the budget bills and send them to the floor when the House returns from Spring Break. House Leaders plan discuss the bills on the House floor and have them out of the House by April 6. The Senate and House will then have until May 5 to agree to a spending plan and send it to the governor. You may read in more detail about what is happening at your State Capitol below. As always, I will work diligently for you as your State Representative.

-Jason

Charter School Expansion Bill Receives House Approval (HB 634)

This week House members gave approval to legislation meant to provide young people in failing schools with additional educational opportunities. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Roeber, would allow charter schools to expand to areas where at least one school is performing poorly. The legislation would also increase the accountability and academic requirements for not only new charter schools, but existing ones as well. The final version of HB 634 is very different than the original version. HB 634 reduces the amount of funding charter schools currently receive and makes it so that no more than 90% of the child’s operating costs go to the charter school. The remaining 10% will be stay in the student’s original school district. This means that public schools end up with more dollars per student. The funding guidelines set forth by HB 634 are contingent upon the K-12 formula being fully funded. If the formula is not fully funded, then no charter school changes will go into effect. In other words, no charter school expansion is possible without a minimum of $48 million in additional funding being allocated to public schools.

Moreover, the final version of HB 634 has some of the highest accountability standards in the country. This bill will force underperforming charter schools to close. If a charter is underperforming other similar schools in their district for two of the past three years, they will be limited to a three-year charter renewal. During the three year probationary period, if a charter performs poorly during two of those three years, that charter school will be ineligible for renewal and will be forced to close. Along with this, charter schools have a built in accountability factor because enrollment is voluntary and they are always competing for students. Also, out-of-state individuals will never be allowed to serve on charter school boards in the Show-Me-State. Charter school board members are local individuals who volunteer their time and talents to help the children and communities where these charters are located.

Under HB 634, new charter schools will only be able to enter a district if one of that district’s public schools is ten points below the provisionally accredited APR level. Even if a charter school opens in a district under these circumstances, it will no longer be able to expand once the public school obtains a 60% APR level. Children in Missouri should not be forced to stay in a failing building solely because they do not live in the wrong zip code. Finally, the district school board will still have the right of first refusal to sponsor a new charter school in the district.

House Budget Committee Unveils Spending Proposal that Fully Funds Education

Missouri’s public schools would be fully funded for the first time under the budget proposal unveiled by the House Budget Committee Chairman this week. The proposed spending plan would also restore a proposed cut to in-home care and nursing home services for senior and disabled Missourians.

The Budget Chairman said the 13 appropriations bills that will make up the Fiscal Year 2018 state operating budget represent the legislature’s commitment to its young people, as well as to its most vulnerable citizens.

In addition to the additional $48 million that will fully fund the School Foundation Formula, the House budget proposal restores proposed cuts to K-12 transportation funding. The plan also secures $6 million in funding to increase broadband internet access for Missouri schools. Additionally, the House budget plan restores $21.75 million in proposed cuts for the state’s institutions of higher learning.

The FY 2018 spending plan proposed by the House Budget Committee also restores approximately $52 million in proposed cuts that would have impacted 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians who currently qualify for state-funded in-home care and nursing home services.

Other notable funding decisions in the House plan include $3.5 million to fulfill the state’s commitment to the Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund, record levels of funding for the state employee pension plan, and $1.4 million to fund a system of voter identification in Missouri.

The House Budget Committee will work to finalize the budget bills and send them to the floor when the House returns from Spring Break. House Leaders plan discuss the bills on the House floor and have them out of the House by April 6. The Senate and House will then have until May 5 to agree to a spending plan and send it to the governor.

House Approves Legislation to Create Senior Service Protection Fund (HCB 3)

The members of the Missouri House have approved a change to the state’s circuit breaker tax credit that will free up funds for vital in-home care and nursing home services for Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.

It was in early February that Governor Greitens unveiled a budget plan that proposed saving $52 million by changing the eligibility standards for home and community-based services. As a result, approximately 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians would no longer qualify for the state-funded care. House leaders responded by working toward a solution that would provide funding for the programs during a difficult budget year.

The legislation approved this week would create the Missouri Senior Services Protection Fund to provide funding for services for low-income seniors and disable persons. To provide the funding, the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Fitzpatrick, ends the renter’s portion of the senior citizens property tax credit. The change would generate up to $56 million in funds that would be used to help provide health care services to Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.

In difficult budget years, tough decisions need to be made. Along with making difficult choices, having flexibility is a necessity. In essence, the Missouri Senior Services Protection Fund was created to provide funding for services that help Missouri’s most vulnerable. This will be funded by eliminating the circuit breaker tax credit and giving the savings to Missourians that need it most. This was a difficult decision, but in tough times, flexibility is a necessity.

The change will return the credit to its intended purpose of providing property tax relief for seniors so they can afford to stay in their homes. The Senior Services Protection Fund will allow the state to reinvest money to more effectively serve low-income seniors and disabled Missourians. Important to note, the change will not diminish Missouri’s commitment to its most vulnerable citizens, and will instead ensure those who need care the most will receive it.

Legislation to Stop Illegal Use of Herbicides Receives Final Legislative Approval (HB 662)

The House and Senate have agreed to legislation that is meant to stop the illegal use of herbicides that have caused widespread damage to crops in Southeast Missouri.

According to experts from the University of Missouri, many farmers in that region lost an average of 35 percent of their crops when neighboring farmers used an outdated Dicamba product. Wind and temperature changes caused that product to spread onto nearby fields. Because the product was drifting onto fields not planted with seeds resistant to it, those crops were damaged. At least 150 farmers were impacted by the illegal use of the product.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Rone and approved by the House, would allow the Department of Agriculture to issue a fine to any individual who knowingly applies a herbicide to a crop for which the herbicide is not labeled for use. Under current law, the fine is a flat $1,000, which the sponsor of the bill said is not a strong enough deterrent. Under the bill, the department could issue a fine of up to $10,000 per violation when a product is spread illegally. The fine would escalate to up to $25,000 per violation for those who repeatedly break the new law. The money collected from any fines would go to the local school district in which the violation occurred.

The bill would also give the Department of Agriculture additional powers to investigate claims of illegal herbicide use. The department would be able to subpoena witnesses and compel the production of certain records related to the misuse of herbicides. Farmers penalized for illegal use would be liable to the department for its expenses and for personal property affected.

The bill includes an emergency clause, which would make it effective immediately upon being signed by the governor.

Raising the Marriage Age to Protect Young People (HB 270)

The legislature continued its fight against human trafficking this week as the House approved legislation to raise the minimum age for marriage from 15 to 17 years old.

Missouri currently has a minimum age of 18 to obtain a marriage license without parental consent. Young people age 15 to 17 can receive a license with parental consent. Individuals of any age also have the option to get married without consent if they successfully petition the court to obtain a license.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Evans and approved by the House, would raise the age requirement to 17. An earlier version of the bill had raised concerns that Missouri law would block a marriage and interfere in the decision of a family in situations in which no coercion or wrongdoing is present. The bill’s language was changed to require a hearing before a judge, so that parties can present evidence that the marriage is advisable. The bill also includes a provision to ensure no marriage license is issued to any person 21years of age or older if the other party to the marriage is less than 17 years of age.

The goal of the bill is to prevent child marriages that are used to disguise abusive situations and human trafficking. Virginia recently raised its minimum age requirement after seeing a large number of underage girls marry men who were far older. According to one study, more than 7,300 teens under the age of 18 were married in Missouri from 2000 to 2014.

MoDOT Online Public Meeting

The Missouri Department of Transportation is currently holding an online public meeting to discuss plans for an upcoming project that will involve treating the surface to extend pavement life on Route 68 between Interstate 44 and to the east junction of Missouri Route 8 within the city of St. James.

The project also includes various Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sidewalk and curb ramp improvements along Route 68 in St. James. The public comment period remains open until Monday, March 20th. More information can be found at: http://www.modot.org/central/route68stjames.htm

Unemployment Situation Improves

Also, Missouri received good news last week as the state’s jobless rate continues to decline. The Missouri Department of Economic Development released its latest data showing that unemployment dropped to 4.2 percent in January. The department’s data also shows an increase in the number of jobs in the state. Missouri gained 7,300 jobs from December to January. The state also has an additional 10,000 jobs when compared to January of last year.

Legislative Survey

Recently, my office released a new 2017 legislative survey that may be taken by any 120th District constituent. As your voice in state government, I can be more effective when I know your views on the many issues facing our state. Please take moment to respond to this survey. Since I can talk with only a small portion of you personally, it is one of the best ways for me to learn your stance on potential legislation. You can also contact me by calling, emailing, or stopping by my office. As always, your interests, concerns, and wishes are the reason I am here.

Survey link: http://jasonchipman.polldaddy.com/s/2017-legislative-survey

If you would prefer a paper survey, please contact my office and a copy will be mailed to you.

I am committed to serve the constituents of the 120th District, so please feel free to contact my office anytime at 573-751-1688. Your District 120 Capitol Office is 201 W Capitol Ave, Rm 415-B, Jefferson City, MO 65101. If you wish to unsubscribe from this report, please email Dylan Bryant at dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov

 

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