Back in August I made a post about the Missouri Career Ladder Funding. For those that don’t know Career Ladder is a system in which Missouri teachers can put in extra work and receive additional pay. Part of the money comes from district funds and the other part comes from the state coffers. The system is funded in May.

I went through the process of emailing all of the Representatives and Senators in Clay County asking for a position on the issue. This is what I have received so far.

9/23/09 Representative Bob Nance:

It seems a little early to be cutting next year’s budget. This means the Highway Patrol, DNR, Missouri Extension Centers and all other departments will begin there trek to save their funding over others. My clear message is that our most important assets are our children and their education. That is our fundamental task.

Bob

9/24/2009 Representative Doug Ervin

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your email and concerns regarding the actions of the appropriations chairs in both the House and the Senate.  The notification sent to DESE in the form of a letter was not copied to members of the House, nor does it speak for all members of the House.

The number of hours that you and many of your colleagues have already put in towards Career Ladder should be recognized by the General Assembly.  It doesn’t make sense for teachers to put in the hours and then be told that they won’t be compensated after the fact.

It is true that state resources are very tight and revenue collections into the state are down from the expected numbers.  In fact, the current fiscal condition of our state shows that for FY2009 (July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009), revenues decreased by 7% representing approximately $550 million less in general revenue (this is the money that Career Ladder is funded from) collected from the preceding fiscal year.  Revenues for the current fiscal year, while early, are currently down an additional 7.5%.  In an attempt to craft a budget that meets the needs of our state, the legislature will look at discretionary programs that can be reduced or eliminated in order to keep our commitment to fund the 5th year phase-in installment for the Foundation Formula, correctional facilities, and health care for low income Missourians.

The poor economy has not only impacted revenues flowing into our state coffers, but has also caused a significant increase in the number of people taking welfare benefits.  The increase so far is an additional 70,000 people.  The monies used to pay for this increase also come from general revenue.

Welfare spending directly competes with education spending.

The problem with this is that the courts have already ruled that welfare spending is an entitlement and the legislature cannot reduce welfare spending, unless we lower the eligibility standards which the legislature did in 2005 and I did support and will support again.

The budget to provide the money necessary to fund the Career Ladder program that you are currently participating in won’t be debated and finalized until May of next year.  I will support putting as much money as possible towards Career Ladder, because you have already put in hours that qualify for the program.

I would be happy to discuss this with you further at anytime.  The next regular session for the Missouri General Assembly begins in January 2010.  Please feel free to contact me as the months go by and the funding for the program is debated.

For a Better Missouri,

Doug Ervin

State Representative

District 35, Missouri

Representative Ryan Silvey

I spoke with Representative Silvey over the phone. His opinion was that he thought that the funding would be there next year and he offered to talk with Rep. Icet for me.

Representative Allen Icet:

I was able to sit down with Representative Icet a few weeks ago and he was honest in explaining why he originally said that the funding “may” not be there next year. I was probably a little hard on Rep. Icet in my last post. It was simply to put it out there that there is a risk the funding might not be there. After meeting with Mr. Icet I see that he is just a straight shooter and wanted people to know that there is a risk of this happening. He was not saying that he can’t wait to cut the funding which is how I think some educators have probably perceived it. There are so many liberals in education they automatically assume that someone is out to take money from them. The reality is that we are in a recession and because the Career Ladder system is funded in arrears there is a chance that the money might not be there. His personal opinion was that he thought the program is decent and did not want to have to cut it. He gave me plenty of time to give him my opinion and was very respectful in listening. I encourage any teacher out there to contact Representative Icet with their concerns.

10/5/2009 Senator Bill Stouffer:

Friends,

I continue to receive correspondence re’ the fate of the state’s career ladder program for teachers.  As I have stated in the past, I too have concerns about ending this important program.  Earlier fears were that the funding for the program would be cut in the middle of this school year, which doesn’t make sense as many teachers began logging hours in May of last year. I do not see this happening.  The fate of this program for the next fiscal year, however, is not as clear.  I will continue to keep you updated on the subject as it progresses.

The General Assembly will reconvene in January to discuss this and other items through May.  The first round of discussions on the state’s budgets happen following the governor’s proposed budget which is released in late January.

Bill

ClayCoMOPolitics Position

Educators that are concerned about this need to encourage their state Representatives and Senators to look at a different funding model for this program. Instead of having it funded at the end of the school year in May it needs to be funded at the same time as everything else in the regular budget. Educators also need to understand that education and health care spending are the two biggest cash cows in the state. Health care spending is always going to trump education, not because it’s necessarily the “right” thing to do but because it is required by law. The Missouri budget isn’t like the Federal budget there is not as much room for flexibility in it. Finally, we are in a recession as it is. That’s because of the liberal spending that is destroying this nation. We can’t keep spending money we don’t have because you feel justified to receive it. I’m not trying to take away from what you do here either. I think Career Ladder is a great program, my wife personally benefits from it, but if the money is not there, it’s not there.

I received no response from Sen. Luann Ridgeway, Rep. Jerry Nolte, Rep. Tim Flook, and Rep. Trent Skaggs.


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