End of Session Recap
May 19, 2021
Acrimony leads to abrupt adjournment
A disagreement over Medicaid funding led to an abrupt ending to the 2021 legislative session last Friday in Missouri. With four hours remaining on the clock, Sen. John Rizzo motioned for adjournment, leaving a pile of unfinished business in his wake. He called it "a perfect ending to a dysfunctional year."

A great deal of education-related legislation suffered collateral damage, and with the exception of education scholarship accounts and a couple of smaller provisions, very few education priorities advanced.

On the other hand, the Kansas State Legislature, which has adjourned until its annual Sine Die session on May 26th, approved numerous education-related provisions this year; however, lawmakers blocked most school choice proposals.

State house reporters summed up this year's work as follows:

Rudi Keller from the Missouri Independent penned a thoughtful wrap-up of session, writing, "To be sure, the 2021 legislative session saw major pieces of the GOP agenda find their way to the governor's desk. Many of those - public money to help offset the cost of private school tuition, or a push to block cities from cutting police budgets - were key priorities of the Senate's conservative caucus. 
But for every significant bill where the Senate GOP remained united, there was another where they splintered." Read more here . 

Katie Bernard from the Kansas City Star recapped the session in Kansas and wrote, "The GOP lost two big culture war battles - major expansions to school choice and a ban on transgender athletes in K-12 and college sports for girls and women - but kept the issues alive for 2022." Read more here.

Aligned saw success with scholarship-related measures in Kansas and realized a long-time goal of advancing a new governance structure for early care and education in Missouri. 

Read our win some/lose some summary below.
Aligned's wins and losses for 2021
We based our policy priorities in Kansas and Missouri this year on the following positions:
  • Aligned supports legislation designed to ensure equitable access to quality Pre-K for all Kansas and Missouri children.
  • Aligned supports legislation that expands college and career education opportunities for all Kansas and Missouri students.
  • Aligned supports efforts to expand funding for quality home visiting programs to increase access for all Kansas and Missouri families.

Missouri 

Wins for Pre-K Equity

The Office of Childhood 
  • Aligned joined a team of child advocacy organizations to study state governance structures for early care and education and make recommendations for implementation. In January, Governor Mike Parson signed executive order 21-02, which established an Office of Childhood. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will house this new office effective August 28th, 2021. This action aims to provide cohesive leadership for early childhood initiatives and programs, meet federal obligations, and improve outcomes for children. Aligned continues to participate in work to support the success of this monumental advancement in state policymaking. 

Losses for Pre-K Equity
  • Efforts to increase the calculation of state aid to increase available funding for pre-k for 3-and 4-year olds (HB 973) passed out of committee in the House of Representatives but did not advance further. 
  • A bill that would give counties the authority to establish early childhood boards and seek voter-approved property tax increases for early childhood education (HB 865) passed out of committee in the House of Representatives but did not advance further. 
  • A provision that would extend the sunset on the Quality Assurance Report (HB 1071) by another three years was amended onto several bills and passed through both chambers. Still, lawmakers failed to bring these bills up in the final days before adjournment. 
Wins for Youth Education and Development

Statewide CTE plan
  • Aligned supported SB 386, a bill that instructs the state board of education to develop a statewide plan for career and technical education that ensures sustainability, viability, and relevance by matching workforce needs with appropriate educational resources. Senator Karla Eslinger amended this language onto HB 297, which the Senate truly agreed and finally passed on the last day of session. 

Losses for Youth Education and Development
  • Lawmakers amended a provision to expand the Visiting Scholars program to allow the state board to grant temporary teaching certificates for hard-to-fill subject areas or hard-to-staff schools onto several bills. However, efforts fell short of securing the last votes needed for final passage.
  • Legislation to expand liability protections to employers who host real-world learning programs advanced out of committee in the House and was amended onto an education omnibus bill but did not cross the finish line in the waning days of session. 
Kansas

Wins for Pre-K Equity 

  • The CIF and KEY funds, which fund early childhood programs across Kansas, were not harmed in 2021.
  • The legislature maintained its funding of Communities Aligned in Early Development & Education (CAEDE). This appropriation is in the budget bill as a line item under Children's Cabinet.
Losses for Pre-K Equity
  • The legislature did not increase funding to expand access to provide quality home visitation programs for ALL Kansas families.

Wins for Youth Education and Development

The Kansas Legislature passed and Governor Laura Kelly approved HB 2064, which established the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act. The measure will provide scholarships for students to attend an eligible post-secondary institution for any two-year associate degree program, career and technical education certificate, or stand-alone program otherwise identified by the Kansas Board of Regents

Aligned supported the following measures which lawmakers included in HB 2134, the omnibus budget bill:
  • The funding to provide dual-credit tuition assistance to cover the cost of high school students enrolled in dual enrollment programs in post-secondary institutions. 
  • The expansion of the ACT college entrance exam and WorkKeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools.
Losses for Youth Education and Development

None this year. :)

Bye for now and see you later
This will be our final weekly update for 2021. However, our work continues and we will update our readers each month with the latest happenings. And of course, if big news erupts on the education front, we will break it down for you.

Aligned plans to hit the road and travel around both states to share our story and learn more from the front lines. If you have questions or something exciting to share, please let us know.

Have a wonderful start to summer and we will check in next month. 

All our best,

Torree Pederson
Torree@WeAreAligned.org
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
Linda@WeAreAligned.org
(314) 330-8442