We also passed our education reform proposal. We know that we must do something to help kids in struggling school districts. The good news is that none of the districts in Southwest are in trouble. The bad news is that St Louis and Kansas City have been getting progressively worse for 20 years. This is not a problem that can be solved by throwing money around. Those failing districts have been getting more and more money for years and there is NO improvement. In fact, it appears to make the problem worse. There are some districts that receive three times as much money as our schools and yet we are the ones with the best test scores in the state. We are not establishing a "Voucher System" as some fear. What this complex solution does is allow students to move from a failing school district to one in the same area that is providing a better education. The bill is the result of a joint effort by a bi-partisan group of Senators and Representatives over a several year period. I applaud their efforts and am very hopeful that this will be implemented by next school year.
There are several bills addressing problems within the Division of Children's service. The bill that I had proposed to extend the time allowed for an abuse investigation from 30 days to 30 business days was kidnapped by Senator Dixon who has improved upon my original idea by extending several other deadlines for investigations. We are beginning to make lawmakers from all over the state aware that there are many problems within the division. During the interim I plan to focus on hiring, training, and compensation for the front line workers in Children's Division. We will be developing a plan to improve the turnover rate from its dismal 54%. I can't think of a more important group of employees than these people who are entrusted with the day-to-day intervention in abuse and neglect situations with our most vulnerable citizens.
I have a bill that I am amending to several Senate bills that would allow a Doctor in a rural area to collaborate with 4 nurse practitioners instead of the 3 that are currently allowed. In my estimation this is just another common sense step to alleviate the problem of doctor shortages in rural areas. We got started a little late with this effort but I have hopes that we can add it to a Senate bill and get it done this session. The credit for this idea goes to Vicki Plumlee and Dr. Robert Hill at the Elk River Health Services in McDonald County.
This week will be full of stress as we attempt to override the Governor's veto of the tax bill but we'll get through it. I sure wish he'd make up his mind what he wants. This is getting really old. We will also be debating the Senate changes to the Transportation bill. I think they have come up with a good compromise but we'll have to wait and see. All the budget bills have to be finished by Friday so there will be plenty to do!
More next week, until then I am and remain in your service.