JC/DC ACTION ALERT: the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program

** PLACED ON CALENDAR FOR COMMITTEE HEARING** Please Contact the House Ways and Means Committee now!

SB 160 has been placed on the Senate Ways and Means Calendar.

SB 160 would establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program.

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is a particular concern for PTA because this program would create an account that would allow taxpayers to make a qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit, as described in the act. The tax credit is for one hundred percent of the amount of the contribution. The tax credit may be carried forward for four years and may be transferred, sold, or assigned. The scholarships will be used in private schools effectively creating a voucher system in Missouri.

Missouri PTA encourages you to send emails the Senate Ways and Means Committee to let them know your feelings on this bill.

Dear Senators,

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is not good for students and parents, taxpayers and Missouri’s public schools for the following reasons:

Irresponsible expansion of tax credits when the state is facing massive shortfalls in the current budget. 

This is a voucher in a bad disguise.  This bill attempts to funnel public funds to private schools and home schools.  It also allows these funds to be spent on for-profit schools, including virtual schools, with no oversight.  This bill is not about seeking quality education for students. This bill is not about choice but about killing public education as we know it, with no assurances that education will be delivered at all. 

Lack of financial oversight of the schools receiving the funds. There is no accountability required of the schools receiving these funds.  These entities are not required to be located in Missouri or governed by Missouri residents.  These entities can be for-profit institutions created solely to earn money off of the backs of Missouri students.  They could be fly-by-night organizations that deliver no actual education, but profit at the expense of Missouri taxpayers.

Lack of educational oversight of the schools receiving the funds. These schools are not required to administer the MAP, identify or educate students with disabilities, or be accredited by any organization.   Missouri tax dollars will be spent for students to be taught by teachers without certification or the specialized knowledge to identify learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc.   The teachers and education providers receiving the funds are not even required to undergo a criminal background check.  Missouri tax dollars could be spent on services and therapies that are not educationally sound.  The bill states that a school “shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum in order to accept students” under a scholarship, which means students with disabilities could be denied enrollment and students with disabilities can be refused specialized education.  Schools could deny enrollment based on economic status or grades.

Expands education beyond the age of 21.  Unlike free public education, which expires once the student turns 21 or graduates high school, parents and students may continue to receive these scholarships indefinitely as long as the student does not complete high school or passes a test for admission to college. 166.705.2

Please oppose SB 160 by voting no.

Sincerely,

You name and PTA

Not sure how to contact the Ways and Means Committee? Click here


Carla Wiese

President Elect

Missouri PTA


JCDC Alert: Tell the IRS to Protect Public Education!

Attention ALL Missouri PTA Advocates!  Please contact the IRS today and ask them to support and protect Public Education and refrain from utilizing the proposed tax loophole.  This regulation creates a special circumstance benefitting private schools through a tax shelter for donations to private schools.
We need ALL of our advocates to TAKE ACTION by clicking the button below and submitting your requests to the IRS.  It takes 2 minutes to be a part of our PTA voice, supporting public schools and public education!  Please share with your social media followers and tag @MissouriPTA in your posts.
Thank you for speaking for our children!
Your fellow advocate,
Kristina Wilmoth, VP Legislation & Advocacy
Missouri PTA
#PTATakesAction #JCDC #JCDCActionAlert #MOPTA #SupportPublicSchools
Dear Education Advocate,

For many years a tax loophole has permitted taxpayers to profit by financially supporting private school voucher programs. This profitable tax shelter has fueled rapid growth in these voucher programs, leading to a major transfer of public dollars into private schools. Moreover, these profits come at the expense of state and federal budgets and do not find their way into public schools or public services.

The IRS has proposed regulations that would shut down this tax shelter and could significantly weaken the popularity and growth of these voucher programs. However, private school choice advocates have been flooding the IRS regulations comment section asking that the IRS maintain this tax shelter by providing a special exemption for private school tuition tax credits that will allow them to continue to receive a federal tax credit for donating to private schools.

We need your help to tell the IRS not to create a special carveout in these regulations for donations to private schools.  All you need to do is click on the “Take Action” button below to submit a comment to the IRS. Thank you for your continued support for public schools.

Thank you,
National PTA


JC/DC Action Alert from National PTA

Please contact your Senators NOW!  This is an urgent matter and we need all our voices advocating with the same message: Oppose the use of these funds to arm teachers and support Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) amendment prohibiting the use of Title IV-A funds to arm teachers.

Please read the full letter from National PTA below, familiarizing yourself with PTA’s Position Statement on Safe and Supportive Schools.

Don’t forget to call your Senator today!

For ALL children,

Kristina Wilmoth
VP Legislation & Advocacy
Missouri PTA

 

Dear Public Education Advocate,

Right now, the U.S. Department of Education is considering a proposal that would allow money that was intended to be used for mental health services and bullying prevention to be used to purchase guns. These funds under Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) are designed to provide resources to support ongoing mental health and drug and violence prevention programs, not the one-time purchase of firearms.

Time is of the essence as the Senate is considering legislation today on this matter, so we ask that you urgently send a letter to your Senators urging them to oppose the use of these funds to arm teachers and support Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) amendment that would prohibit the use of Title IV-A funds to arm teachers.

All you need to do is click on the “Take Action” button below to send a letter to your Senators. Thank you for your continued support to protect students and our nation’s schools.

For more information on National PTA’s position on school safety, please check out our position statement on Safe and Supportive Schools.
Thank you,
National PTA


JC/DC Action Alert: Gun Violence Prevention

This Friday, 6/1/2018, is Gun Violence Awareness Day.  National PTA is a partner in Everytown for Gun Safety’s Wear Orange Weekend, a weekend where people all over the country will show their support for gun violence prevention both online and at community events.

Missouri PTA encourages all of our membership to take a picture of yourself in your orange and post on social media using the hashtags #PTAProud #Enough and #EndGunViolence.  Make sure you tag Missouri PTA and National PTA so we can share the message nationally.

I think National PTA said it best in their position statement.

“School safety is a critical priority for all parents, educators, students and community members that cannot be taken for granted. We must make every attempt to reduce violence, especially incidents that involve firearms. National PTA recognizes the importance of parent involvement in the decision-making process in the development and implementation of school safety policies, including crisis response plans.
National PTA recognizes the importance of a safe learning environment in attaining the highest level of student learning and achievement. National PTA believes the most effective day-to-day school climate to be gun-free but defers to local collaborative decision-making to allow for the presence of law enforcement deployed in community-oriented policing.”

Join me and PTA advocates around the country this weekend and wear orange!  Show your support for gun violence prevention and share your story!

For every child,

Kristina Wilmoth, VP Legislation & Advocacy
Missouri PTA

Resources:
https://wearorange.org/about/
MOPTA.org
PTA.org


***JC/DC Alert CALL and EMAIL TODAY! Session ends at 6:00 pm today, May 18th. Please call NOW! ***

Missouri legislators may soon be considering separate tax bills that would make Missouri’s tax system even more unfair and would take away critical resources our communities need to prosper. These cuts include funding for public schools. Missouri PTA opposes any measure that would take away funding for schools in Missouri. The loss of revenue generated from individual income tax is a large portion of funding for Missouri schools. Without quality schools it will be hard to attract new businesses and may even cause the loss of existing businesses, which hurts all of Missouri.

 Contact your legislators today to let them know you OPPOSE this bill.

The irresponsible tax giveaways included in SB 884 far outweigh the positive changes they include.

Lawmakers are set to give a huge tax break to profitable corporations while undermining our ability to fund schools, health, roads, and other things Missourians need.

Yesterday, the House approved a massive corporate tax cut, once again putting corporate profit margins before people.

The House approved an amended version of Senate Bill 884, which would cut Missouri’s corporate income tax by more than one-third, taking it from 6.25% to just 3.9%.  If approved, Missouri would have the second lowest corporate income tax rate in the nation.

Year after year, lawmakers have chosen costly tax cuts aimed at profitable corporations and the richest households, and yet Missouri has little to show for it except an inability to adequately support the building blocks of our state’s economy.

 Cutting the Corporate Income Tax rate will predominantly help large out-of-state businesses and their out-of-state shareholders.

Legislators should put people first. Instead of rushing a poorly constructed tax measure through at the tail-end of the legislative session, lawmakers would be better off to take advantage of a proven strategy and approve of the Working Families Credit-EITC.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have similar state-level credits, which have proven to have lasting benefits, particularly in the educational, health and economic outcomes for children.

What’s more, this ill-conceived corporate tax giveaway is being considered at the same time that Missouri is unable to afford basic services and infrastructure that our communities, families and economy need to prosper.

Missouri already ranks well below other states in terms of the services it provides its residents. Recent budget cuts have diminished those services further, and the continued phasing in of 2014’s tax cuts will likely make the situation even more dire. The bill passed by the House would be another big step in the wrong direction.

Not only have services been cut over the last decade, each year they compete against each other for more limited increases. Services for our grandparents are pitted against services for our children; and education competes against transportation needs.

Moreover, Missouri’s budget struggle is likely to worsen due to the implementation of the 2014 Kansas-like tax cuts that are still being phased-in. When fully implemented, the 2014 tax cuts will reduce state revenue by $720 million per year – the equivalent of all mental health services in Missouri.

Schools are already struggling in part due to gaps in the budget created by the passage of SB 641 and SB 1025 in 2016. When Missouri is unable to fully fund its portion of schools every district and every child suffers. This can be felt most strongly in districts that are struggling to pay for the cost of education due to lowering property values and tax revenue. The corporate tax is vital to these schools to help to make the playing field level for all Missouri children no matter the school district.

There are a few districts in Missouri that will be better able to adjust to such a loss in income. However, what about the districts that cannot? There are several districts that already have cut music and extra-curricular activities out of their budget. They already have had to lay off support staff and may have to eventually lay off teachers. How are those schools going to be competitive with the schools that are better able to make up for decrease in funding? The further lack of funds that the loss of income tax would create a greater disparity between school districts.

Furthermore, with an educated population comes a qualified work force. This work force will help attract new businesses to Missouri. These new businesses in turn create new employment opportunities for Missourians. If we cannot fully invest in education we dissolve the very force that will propel Missouri onward. The children of Missouri deserve to have an equal chance no matter from which district they attend. We need to ensure they have career opportunities waiting for them to encourage them to stay in Missouri. Please tell your Representative and Senator to vote NO to SB 884.

Tell your legislators to oppose these bills.

Dear Representative or Senator,

Missouri PTA opposes any measure that would take away funding for schools in Missouri. The loss of revenue generated from individual income tax is a large portion of funding for Missouri schools. Without quality schools it will be hard to attract new businesses and may even cause the loss of existing businesses, which hurts all of Missouri.

 In the current fiscal year, the tax is budgeted to reduce $720 million for the general revenue budget. These cuts would come at a time when Missouri is already struggling to meet its budget needs due to previously enacted tax changes and would require additional and steep cuts to services including education.

 Schools are already struggling in part due to gaps in the budget created by the passage of SB 641 and SB 1025 in 2016. When Missouri is unable to fully fund its portion of schools every district and every child suffers. This can be felt most strongly in districts that are struggling to pay for the cost of education due to lowering property values and tax revenue. The corporate tax is vital to these schools to help to make the playing field level for all Missouri children no matter the school district.

There are a few districts in Missouri that will be better able to adjust to such a loss in income. However, what about the districts that cannot? There are several districts that already have cut music and extra-curricular activities out of their budget. They already have had to lay off support staff and may have to eventually lay off [i]teachers. How are those schools going to be competitive with the schools that are better able to make up for decrease in funding? We have seen several schools across Missouri lose accreditation and the fall out of students moving to other districts. The further lack of funds that the loss of income tax would create a greater disparity between school districts. This will severely impair how students can be accepted into colleges and how schools will be able to attract quality staff.

Furthermore, with an educated population comes a qualified work force. This work force will help attract new businesses to Missouri. These new businesses in turn create new employment opportunities for Missourians. If we cannot fully invest in education we dissolve the very force that will propel Missouri onward. The children of Missouri deserve to have an equal chance no matter from which district they attend. We need to ensure they have career opportunities waiting for them to encourage them to stay in Missouri. Please tell your Senator to vote NO SB 884.

Sincerely,

 Your Name
PTA Unit

 

Not sure how to contact your state legislators? Click here and insert your street address or 9-digit zip code.

Kristina Wilmoth
VP and Director of Legislation and Advocacy
kristinaw@mopta.org