In this day and age of some serious worker shortages, Missouri is deciding whether to let its state agencies and schools create employee retention and performance incentive programs.

The Missouri Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee is considering a bill, sponsored by State Rep. John Black, R-Marshfield.

“We often hear that government needs to be run more like a business,” said Black. “This bill gives us the opportunity to do that. It would allow a local government or a university or another political subdivision to understand how they might be able to try to retain employees in this very difficult market or provide performance incentives to employees in this very difficult market within the bounds of the Constitution.”

The bill would also let public schools boost pay for their teachers working in hard-to-fill schools or positions.

Stacey Preis, with Aligned, a nonprofit designed to improve education, said she supports the bill because it takes a more market-driven salary approach for public teachers working in hard-to-fill schools or positions.

“We think this is consistent with other professions, like law, medicine, engineering, where different specialty areas draw down different salaries. With teaching as a profession, this fits right in with that,” said Preis.

The Missouri National Education Association opposes the piece of the bill about differentiated pay because it says the language needs clear guardrails.

The payments cannot exceed 20% of base wages or salary and can only be given annually. They cannot apply to public employees with a salary that is set by statute.

The committee has not yet voted on House Bill 471.

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