TOMORROW, Monday, January 9, the House Education Committee will hear HB 15 to provide for inflationary funding for k-12 public education. Here are some facts about HB 15:
provides 2.7% inflation on state share of funding for public schools in 2024
provides 3% inflation (maximum allowed by law) on state share of funding for public schools in 2025
Montana has the money
this funding is needed to provide the constitutionally mandated free quality public education to every student
Please email the members of the House Education Committee before Tuesday, January 10 to ask them to pass HB 15 and thank them for their service. Please keep your email brief and respectful. It is great that they are hearing this bill so soon and seem committed to passing it early!
There are SEVERAL ways to contact the committee.
Go here https://leg.mt.gov/web-messaging/?emci=9e225852-7b8f-ed11-9d7b-00224832e811&emdi=950d9d0d-7e8f-ed11-9d7b-00224832e811&ceid=18573660 to send the entire committee the same message with one click.
Call the Capitol switchboard at 406-444-4800 and leave a message for up to three members at a time.
Use the email addresses below in your personal email account.
Here's an email list for House Education that you can copy and paste into your address bar:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; BraxtonMMitchell@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Kerri4MT@gmail.com; email@example.com
Fred Anderson (R) Chair
Linda Reksten (R) Vice Chair
Tyson Running Wolf (D) Vice Chair
James Bergstrom (R)
Marta Bertoglio (R)
Lee Deming (R)
Sherry Essmann (R)
Brandon Ler (R)
Eric Matthews (D)
Braxton Mitchell (R)
Melissa Romano (D)
Kerri Seekins-Crowe (R)
Mark Thane (D)
Here are two sample letters written by Jake Warner and Adam Clinch that you may use as a model for your own letter:
Dear Members of the House Education Committee,
Hello, my name is Adam Clinch and I am writing in support of HB 15, which would provide for inflationary funding for K-12 public education.
As a high school math teacher at Capital High School in Helena, I am quite aware of the significant impact that the legislature’s inflationary increase plays in supporting public education in Montana. Pursuant to Article X, section 1, of the Montana constitution, the legislature is required to provide a basic system of free quality public elementary and secondary schools throughout the state of Montana that will guarantee equality of educational opportunity to all. The key word from that statement, in regard to HB 15, is “quality.”
Without the proposed inflationary increases, the legislature would not be providing a quality public education experience for the students of Montana due to our inability to recruit and retain quality educators.
Because of record inflation reaching 8% within the past year, like many others, teachers are struggling to pay basic bills and obtain groceries. Combining that with Montana ranking 40th in regard to teacher pay (link to article) and it is no surprise that the total number of teaching licenses issued in Montana has decreased by 9% in the last five years, according to the 2022 teacher licensure report from the Office of Public Instruction that was released last week.
The housing and rent crisis has gotten so bad that our school district office in Helena sent out an email in August of 2021 asking teachers throughout the district if staff had places that new hires could live since so many new hires were declining jobs due to the fact there was no housing they could afford.
Governor Gianforte has regularly stated his desire to fund teacher pay for public educators (as seen by the bill he publicly supported for increasing new teacher salaries last session). Voting yes on this bill would follow his prior words of support. Additionally, an unprecedented surplus implies we have the means to do this.
Although I wish the maximum by law was higher than 3% (in light of the proposal for state employees looking at 4% each year over the next biennium) and that the first year of this proposal was also 3%, this is a good start.
Please uphold your duty as laid out in the Montana constitution and support the free and quality public education of Montana’s students by supporting and voting YES to pass HB 15.
Thank you for your time, service, and consideration,