2022 MRTA End of Session Report

May 13, 2022

Since the Missouri General Assembly began the 2022 Legislative Session on January 5, 2022, there were more than 2,200 bills introduced. MRTA has monitored and tracked almost 400 bills.  The 2022 Legislative session adjourned for the last time this year on May 13, 2022.  There is good news for the education community regarding the budget. The Missouri General Assembly passed the $49 billion state budget with over $10 billion to help education. This budget was the largest budget passed in Missouri history. The budget includes DESE's $10 billion budget. Below are some of the funding increases:

Funds to increase teacher pay, including:

  • Fully funding Governor Parson’s recommendation to increase the baseline teacher salary from $25,000 to $38,000 through a matching grant program.
  • The state will provide local school districts with funds to support 70 percent of the salary costs associated with the program; local school districts would have to provide the remaining 30 percent.
  • Just over $37 million to restart the Career Ladder program currently in state law, which allows teachers with at least five years of experience to earn extra money for participating in additional activities in the school setting.
  • A one-time increase of $214 million to support transportation in public schools, fully funding the maximum 75 percent of reimbursable costs for the first time since 1991.

 

Revenue estimates made in December 2021 indicated that the current fiscal year will end June 30 with almost $3 billion in surplus general revenue, by far the most in state history. Since those estimates were made, revenues have far exceeded expectations. Missouri has unprecedented amounts of surplus general revenue. State revenues are growing at a strong pace and will generate as much as $2 billion in additional surplus revenue by end of fiscal 2023.

 

The budget also sets aside $500 million for a deposit in the Missouri State Employee Retirement System (MOSERS) fund to lessen the need for future contribution increases, which receives contributions to the retirement plan from General Revenue. The budget does not set aside any additional funding for Public School and Education Employee Retirement Systems of MO (PSRS/PEERS), St. Louis Public School Retirement System, and Kansas City Public School Retirement System, because those retirement systems receive their funding from employees and employers directly and the systems are prevented by statute from accepting general revenue directly.  The budget bill now heads to Governor Parson’s desk for signature.

In a last-minute surprise, the Senate adjourned late Thursday, May 12th leaving some legislation for the House to consider on Friday.  No bills negatively impacting PSRS/PEERS of Missouri, PSRS/PEERS of St. Louis, or PSRS/PEERS of Kansas City, MO were passed this session. 

One bill passed that will have an impact on the ability for our retiree’s ability to return to work for our covered employers.  SB 681 passed on May 12, 2022, which waives the working after retirement statute for any work performed by PSRS/PEERS retirees working in substitute teaching positions only.  On August 7, 2020, Governor Parson signed a waiver of the 550-hour / 50% salary working after retirement statute. This waiver was to address the substitute teacher shortage our school districts were facing during COVID.  It was in effect until December 31, 2022.  The new language will be in effect until June 30, 2025. 

MRTA testified on several bills this year that had an impact on the Systems.  Retirement legislation that MRTA supported, which did not pass included:

  • Working-After-Retirement changes that would allow the retiree to earn in any one school year - 25% of the person's highest annualized final average salary.  
  • Providing a 2.55% benefit factor for PSRS of MO retirees who retire with 32 years or more of service.  This would have been a cost savings to the system as well as a pension boost to the retiree.  This also would have made an impact on keeping qualified teachers in the classroom and lessened teacher shortage.
  • Critical shortage provisions that would increase the limit from two years to four years.  This bill would have made a positive impact on the substitute teacher shortage.
  • Legislation that would have changed the post-retirement salary limit for PSRS members working in PEERS positions to the Social Security limit through June 30, 2025. 

All these bills would have benefited school districts, Missouri’s school children and retirees by having a qualified, retired teacher substitute teach and providing an opportunity for qualified teachers to stay in the classroom longer. 

Retirement Legislation that MRTA opposed which did not pass included:

  • Legislation requiring defined benefit plans in Missouri to invest at least 20% of their venture capital in Missouri owned businesses and real estate.  This would have negatively impacted PSRS/PEERS by limiting their investment potential by $1.5 billion. The language that would have impacted the teacher retirement plans was removed from this legislation after an MRTA Call to Action.  Thank you to all members who voiced their concerns!

Education bills that passed included:

  • ESSER III funding to school districts.  These federal funds provided needed funds to school districts to help fill staffing shortages and help with other shortfalls. Supplemental budget bill appropriated $1.9 billion in federal ESSER III funding to school districts. The bill authorizes over $4.5 billion to utilized in the current fiscal year. MRTA supports legislation that increases funding to our public schools. (HB 3014)
  • Funding increases for public education.  This legislation added $214 million for transportation, $37 million for Career Ladder, $32 million for teacher pay, and $45 million for literacy grants. MRTA supports legislation that increases funding to our public schools. (HB 3002)
  • Charter school expansion.  MRTA opposes charter school expansion as it takes away tax revenue away from public schools. (HB 1552)
  • Omnibus Senate Education Bill.  This bill originally dealt with reading instruction and literacy.  The version that was finally truly agreed to and finally passed contains many of the education issues that were non-controversial. This provision also contains the waiver of working after retirement provision for substitute teachers and can be found in chapter 168.036, RSMo. (SB 681)

For a bill to become law, it must be passed by the Missouri House and Senate, those bills are referred to being truly agreed and finally passed. The General Assembly truly agreed and finally passed (TAFP) 65 bills this year, of which 19 of those were appropriation bills.   After a bill has been TAFPed it goes to the governor for his signature or veto. The governor has until July 14 to sign or veto legislation.

MRTA has played a proactive role this legislation session.  Thank you to our MRTA members who were active and engaged. You made a difference!  

Please make sure to contact your Representative and Senator that have been wonderful advocates for your retirement and public education.  A handwritten note or email goes a long way after session is finished.  If your legislators have not always been supportive of public education or your retirement system, consider a note thanking them for their public service and asking them to consider being supportive in the future. 

 

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