A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kim Moser: A roundup report on interim committee activities; exploring issues facing legislature

Interim committees met September 9 through 13 for their monthly meetings, bringing together members of the House and Senate to hear from state government officials and members of the public about the issues we will be looking at during the next session. I believe I have shared that this year’s committee meeting schedule has been reorganized, so now almost all of the meetings take place during one week each month.
This month, members of the Education Committee met and discussed two important topics facing education today – child abuse and neglect, and a shortage in teachers. The presentation on child abuse and neglect came from a group of students from Boyle County. They are requesting that the General Assembly consider requiring age-appropriate education on child abuse to our public school curriculum. According to the presentation, 28 states have already passed similar requirements and comparable measures have been filed in previous sessions. Child abuse and neglect have been a priority for the General Assembly over the past few years, with Kentucky leading the nation in child abuse and neglect cases. While the next step for this proposal requires a great deal of review and consideration, I was quite impressed by how this group of young people handled a difficult topic.

Kim Moser

Education Committee members also heard from school superintendents about a shortage in teachers in our public schools. According to the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, 95 percent of public school superintendents say that the teacher shortage is a “significant problem.” Flynn also shared that there has been a steep decline in the number of students studying education, from 13,000 in 2007 to just 5,000 today. Naturally, we need to delve into why fewer people are looking at teaching as a career and what we can do to engage more. There has already been some discussion about into incentives like dual credit hours, the certification process and maybe even expanding the financial assistance available to those who want to teach. Already, more than $1.7 million a year in lottery funds are invested in need-based scholarships designed to attract qualified students to teaching. The pension crisis also creates some uncertainty for potential teachers, as does the concern that teachers have to spend too much time on paperwork and not enough with students. The root of the problem is likely a combination of all of these factors. We will continue to monitor the situation and look for possible solutions.
A legislative working group created to review opportunities for Kentuckians who want to pursue a career in one of the skilled trades or technical fields also met this week. The Kentucky Career and Technical Education Task Force received a report on how Kentucky stacks up with neighboring states. According to the Southern Regional Education Board, our career and technical education system is far less centralized. Instead of one system, we have several on the secondary and post-secondary levels that plug into existing resources. Also, and this was particularly interesting to me, some states fund at different levels based on the demand for specific skills. For example, Ohio allocates per-pupil funding of up to $5,100 for information technology, manufacturing, health sciences, but only $1,300 for family and consumer sciences education.
The Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment also met last week. Representatives from the drug abuse treatment, business and health insurance communities were on the agenda to discuss how the opioid crisis is hurting our efforts to improve Kentucky’s workforce. This is a hot topic because, despite record economic investment and thousands of new jobs, we still rank 47th in the nation in workforce participation. That means that too many Kentuckians who could be working are not. The information we get paints a pretty clear picture – drug addiction is preventing people from becoming productive, healthy members of society.
On another note, the Interim Joint Committee on State Government heard testimony on two proposals that seek to prevent cities from adopting any policy that forbids or discourages the enforcement of immigration laws. Both proposals seek to prohibit local authorities from establishing “sanctuary cities” for those who are here illegally. While supporters and those opposed to the measures discussed both at great length, the overwhelming message was clear – our federal government has to move to fix our broken immigration system.
Interim committees cover a wide array of topics. They represent the opportunities and challenges we face as a state and highlight what we need to work on when we come back in session in January. The committees will meet again the week of September 30 through October 4 and I hope to report back after those meetings as well.
Reach Rep. Kim Moser through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181 or via e-mail at kimberly.moser@lrc.ky.gov. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page. Follow her on Twitter @5boymom.

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  1. Marv Dunn says:

    Some time ago I predicted that the new retirement plan for new hires would be detrimental to recruiting young teachers. I think the chickens have come home to rooste on this one and they just won’t admit it.

  2. Dear Kim,

    The governor of your party attacks teachers, calls them names and treats them like they’re idiots who need him to save them from themselves even though as a body they represent some of the most highly educated people in this state. He attacks their pension system threatening to reduce the benefits available to them in retirement and threatens to fine them for coming to Frankfort to protest his plans. He threatens to cut the funding of public education to fund charter schools. I’m a retired teacher and were I still active in the profession I would be looking at the seven states bordering Kentucky many of who offer better salaries, better benefits or both. You wonder why there is a teacher shortage??? You and every member need to look in a mirror if you want to see the source of the problem.

    • Vikki Naber says:

      Dear Jeff,
      Your knee jerk reactions to being offended are not contributing towards a solution to the problem. The problem is wasted spending, enabled abuse of benefits, and false promises to teachers for years on top of years. Simple math spells complete doom for the pension system and state economy if nothing is done. Bevin might have been offensive, but he’s proposing very good solutions to fix the problem. Who cares if we offended some teachers. I’d be willing to bet you’d support (maybe not if you’re a teacher) these measures if a different person were pushing them.
      You’re not going to get your promised pension if the entire bucket tips over. Help fix it.

  3. ruth bamberger says:

    Nice report, Rep. Moser, but I predict, given the current makeup of the legislature and the Bevin administration, next year’s budget session will do nothing but maintain the status quo. The comments above demonstrate the need for some radical changes in the financial infrastructure of this state, so schools at all levels have sufficient resources to do their job well.

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