Missouri teachers will now have a base salary of $38,000 thanks to a statewide budget approved by legislators last week.

State Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, who serves as budget chairman for the Senate, said having to decipher how to use the expanded Missouri budget was difficult, but he said Gov. Mike Parson put forth a good plan and all parties were able to get on board.

Some of the things accomplished in the new budget were investments in rural broadband, dollars for higher education, money to the 139th Airlift Wing for a new tower and an increased minimum base salary for teachers at $38,000.

The unique local challenge of increased teacher pay

Gabe Edgar, the St. Joseph School District’s assistant superintendent for business operations, said the district already was starting its teachers at $38,000 a year. He said the new statewide mandate will cause the district to reconsider recruitment efforts as its strategy used to be bringing in teachers from smaller districts by being able to offer a higher starting wage.

“We’re going to have to start thinking outside the box, we’re going to have to start looking at and researching options to do the best we can to not only recruit ... but retain,” Edgar said.

Edgar said retaining staff has become especially important as staffing shortages have become more widespread. He said the district has posted some openings and received zero applications in response.

Edgar said it will be a challenge to increase starting salary as enrollment has gone down which in turn decreases finances.

Tax credits on the way to Missourians

Another addition to the 2022 budget is about $500 million of a $1 billion statewide surplus being sent out as tax refunds for adult residents.

People who filed as an individual should expect to receive up to $500, while couples who filed as married should expect up to $1,000 depending on financial status. Hegeman said that payments should be sent out after Oct. 15.

“Many of us thought it would be proper to give back taxpayers the dollars ... and this was an effort to do that,” Hegeman said.

Clayton Anderson can be reached at clayton.anderson@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowAnderson.

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