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ASK THEM THE HARD QUESTIONS!

January 31, 2020

Questions for Missouri House and Senate Candidates and Current Office Holders

When given the opportunity to ask policymakers questions use the questions below.

Missouri Education Pensions

  1. PSRS (Public School Retirement System) was formed in 1946 as a defined benefit pension plan (DB) to attract and retain the best and most experienced educators possible. Do you support the current defined benefit plan for educators and support staff which is similar to the defined benefit plan for the legislature and statewide officials? (a DB plan pays a monthly benefit for life, a DC plan pays you until you run out of money.)
    MRTA’s Position 
    – MRTA supports a Defined Benefit Plan for educators as a way to attract and then to retain the best educated and experienced educators for our children possible.
  2. Would you support legislation that requires all new teachers and support staff to be placed into, or to be given a choice to opt into, a defined contribution plan (DC) such as a 401(k) vs. the current defined benefit (DB) plan (PSRS)? Did you support HB 864 of 2019 Taylor?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA opposes 410(k)s or DC plans for educators and supports a strong DB plan. A DB plan is essential for attracting and retaining the best educated and experienced educators.
  3. Would you support maintaining the current independent governance and independent investment decisions of the Boards of Trustees of the following public education retirement systems: PSRS/PEERS Retirement System, PSRS of Kansas City, MO and PSRS of the City of St. Louis?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA supports independent governance and opposes any kind of state take-over or consolidation of public retirement systems.
  4. Would you support consolidating the Public School Retirement System/Public Education Employees Retirement System (PSRS/PEERS) with another state retirement system? For example, consolidation through a State Investment Board. What are your feelings on the discussions of consolidating the MOSERS for state employees and MPERS for highway employees such as the Highway Patrol?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA supports independent governance of public employee retirement systems and strongly opposes a State Investment Board.
  5. At times there is legislation that increases the cost of doing business or increases benefits of the PSRS/PEERS system such as certain Work- After-Retirement (WAR) provisions. Would you support legislation that increases the cost to the PSRS/PEERS system currently pre-funded at 84%?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA opposes any new legislation that increases the cost of doing business for educator retirement systems.

Missouri Public Education

  1. Whether it is in the form of a voucher, tax credit, or other means, will you support spending public tax dollars to allow students to attend private schools?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA opposes spending tax dollars on private schools. These schemes take scarce resources away from public education.
  2. Will you support the expansion of charter schools statewide as an alternative to traditional schools?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA opposes charter schools. There is a lack of accountability to the taxpayer and Charters take scarce resources away from public education.
  3. Currently, Missouri is ranked 49th in the nation in beginning teacher salaries. How would you propose to raise the salaries of public school teachers?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA supports legislation increasing the minimum salaries for beginning teachers and supports state funding to allow the increase.
  4. Legislators have fully funded the 2005 Foundation Formula for Public Schools the last two years. However, the State Adequacy Target (SAT) which is the baseline amount given to each district per student in schools was supposed to be recalculated every other year, but the SAT as of 2012 has been fixed at the funding rate used in 2005. Even with the $61 million additional revenue to the Foundation Formula this legislative session, those funds spread over the 567 school districts may not even cover the additional health insurance costs for school districts and is one of the reasons for low teacher salaries in Missouri. What would you do to adequately fund the Foundation Formula for Public Schools if anything?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA supports full funding of the Foundation Formula and supports the Formula being updated to increase state funding for Missouri Public Education. MRTA opposes future tax cuts until this is accomplished.
  5. Transportation funding for public schools now stands at 15% funded. State policy states that transportation should be funded at 75% of transportation costs. What would your solution be to this inadequate funding of transportation that is particularly important to rural public schools?
    MRTA’s Position – MRTA supports funding of public school transportation to 75% which is the recommended level to draw maximum Federal funds. This is particularly important to rural districts.
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