Weekly Update
February 5, 2021
Torree Pederson came to play during Zoom sessions this week.
We gotta talk about the Chiefs first
It no secret who our Aligned president Torree Pederson supports. So this morning we listened to yesterday's press conference with Kansas City Quarterback Patrick Mahomes for some inspiration. When asked what makes Tampa Bay Quarterback Tom Brady different, this was Mahomes response:

"I watched a lot of guys, I watched Brett Favre, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, those guys that can move around make plays happen, but I also watched guys like Tom (Brady). The way he is able to move in the pocket and get his team in the right play and at the end of the day make the best play for the team to win - it's truly special - if you look at guys like Tom, Michael (Jordan), Kobe (Bryant) LeBron (James) A-Rod (Alex Rodriquez) - all these are special guys. I think at the end of the day you see that their work ethic and their drive to win is just different than everybody else and that is what makes them special. Hopefully, I can do what I can to have that same kind of work ethic and drive in my career."

We think Mahomes and the Chief are special and will be cheering them on this Sunday. 
Missouri News
Legislative Update

Here are a few toplines from activity under the dome this week.
  • The Senate pulled an "allnighter" to pass SB 51, a bill aimed at giving liability protections against civil lawsuits due to COVID.
  • The House passed a measure that would prevent local law enforcement from enforcing some federal gun laws.
  • A federal grand jury has indicted State Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, for allegedly selling fake stem cell treatments at medical clinics that she operates in southwest Missouri's Springfield, Branson, and Ozark counties.
  • Missouri Supreme Court Judge Laura Denvir Stith announced plans to retire effective March 8.
  • Missouri Supreme Court Justice George Draper gave his annual State of the Judiciary speech virtually Tuesday.
  • House Transportation Chairwoman Becky Ruth filed a measure this week to raise the gas tax to increase funds for transportation infrastructure.

Budget Update

This week both the House Budget and Senate Appropriations began hearing from the thirteen departments regarding the FY 2022 budget requests with the governor's recommendations.  

The budget request for Medicaid expansion is $1,737,779,895 ($113 million General Revenue- GR, $1.442 billion federal, $181 million other funds). The Department of Social Services believes there will be a savings offset of $8.5 million in general revenue due to 5,000 individuals moving from their current coverage (65% federal match) to coverage under expansion (90% federal match). For a net general revenue cost of $105 million.

We do not expect the expansion of Medicaid to have any negative impacts on education spending. In addition, January's revenue collections are up 18% compared to January 2020. 

The House Budget Committee will review the budget for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education next week. They will not take public testimony but we expect to hear discussion around the funding for the new Office of Childhood.
Education Update

We included full coverage of all education committee activity in our weekly report.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Early Childhood Education Services

The House Committee on Children and Families heard HB 865, sponsored by Rep. Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph). This bill provides authorization for any county or city not within a county (St. Louis City)  to levy a property tax to establish an early childhood education board which shall provide childhood education programs or services. The bill limits the levy to $0.40 per $100 of assessed valuation on real property and includes sample ballot language. The tax shall not go into effect unless approved by the qualified voters.

The sponsor testified that she intended to expand and improve early childhood services in counties by establishing a way to bring extra local dollars into communities.

Testifying in support were representatives from Aligned and Kids Win Missouri. Supporters said that federal funding and the state foundation formula are helpful but do not allocate enough early childhood resources. They also noted that this legislation would allow counties to decide what is best for their communities and that investment in early childhood is a long-term investment in Missouri's workforce.

There was no testimony in opposition, and the committee took no further action on the measure.

MO Course Access/Virtual Education

The Senate Education Committee heard  SB 95, sponsored by Senator Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis). Currently, students enrolled in the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program are included in the student enrollment of the school district in which the student physically is enrolled. The two main provisions in the bill would change the way that students can access full-time virtual education, and it would change the way that funding is determined and distributed for full-time virtual students. 

The sponsors intent with the legislation is to establish an alternative education program for students and establish the framework for state funding to follow the student instead of the district

Under existing law, a district or charter school determines whether virtual enrollment is in the best interest of the student. Under SB 95, that responsibility would rest solely with the parent or guardian. Payment for virtual coursework is currently distributed to vendors by the student's resident school district or charter school and is capped at no more than the state adequacy target (an amount used in the funding formula calculation) for full-time virtual students

OUR TAKE: In SB 95, the funding amount for full-time virtual students-"an amount equal to the average daily attendance for the student's district of residence"-- is not clear. 

Average daily attendance is a pupil count, not a monetary amount. Testimony given at the hearing made clear that there are very different interpretations of what that language means.

Numerous parents, along with National Coalition for Public School Options and Connections Academy provided supporting testimony. 

The Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, Independence School District, MO Association of School Administrators, Kansas City Public School District, MNEA, and a School Board Member of Nixa Public School provided opposing testimony,

Curious about the 38 most read bills? Click here.
Aligned Priorities

Rep. Brenda Shields filed two new bills this week that align with our priority agenda.

HB 973 -  Modifies the calculation of average daily attendance for early childhood education programs. This legislation would increase the amount of state aid districts and charters can claim for Pre-K incrementally from 4% (current amount) to 10% over several years. This bill is similar to SB 167.

HB 1071 - Makes the early learning quality assurance report program (QAR) permanent. This legislation would move QAR from a pilot to an ongoing quality rating program.

We expect these bills to receive a hearing in the next week or two.

Click here for the full Aligned Priority Tracking Report.
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Revenue estimates trending upward

The Kansas Department of Revenue reported Kansas revenue estimates for January at $90 million, above adjusted estimates. Income, sales, and use tax receipts were all up. After watching revenues plummet in early 2020 due to pandemic-related economic effects, we are pleased to see the trend reverse. In total, January revenues are 6.4% above estimates, which brings more flexibility in the state general revenue fun for FY 2021 and FY 2022.

School Choice bills advance

Kansas lawmakers advanced legislation to expand funding options for private education in both houses. The K-12 Budget Committee passed legislation to expand the state's tax credit scholarship program. HB 2068 will provide up to $10 million a year in state tax credits to businesses and private citizens who donate money to a scholarship program to help offset tuition costs at private schools.

The Senate Education Committee also advanced SB 61, which mirrors the House version, to the full chamber.

The current program offers $8,000 annual scholarships to students eligible for free lunches and enrolled in one of the lowest 100 performing elementary schools for achievement. In 2020/21, roughly 630 Kansas students used the scholarships and accessed $2 million in funding.

The legislation proposed this session will make scholarships available to students eligible for free and reduced lunch and those enrolled in any Kansas public school. Lawmakers expect that over 1,200 students will take advantage of the scholarships with the expansion.

A number of supporters and opponents have testified on the bills.  A full overview of witness comments can be found here.

Other Education Legislation Moving this week
This week the Senate Education Committee heard the following bills:

SB 51 -This bill will help track the academic outcomes of foster care students. 
SB 63 - This bill expands the provision of the ACT college entrance exam and WorkKeys assessments to students enrolled in nonpublic schools.

This week the House Education Committee heard the following bills:

HB 2039 -  This will would require all Kansas students to pass a civics test as a requirement to graduate high school.  

What's next

We are fortunate to have some added talent to our team this session - Dr. Stacey Preis and Garrett Webb are working the hallways and bringing their A-games. 

Here's our best "policy posse" pose taken this week outside the Missouri Capitol.

We have a full schedule next week and as always are available to answer questions and will report the latest next Friday.

Have a great weekend....GO CHIEFS!

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442