Quick Thoughts on “Controversy” of State Official Giving Technical Advice on Ballot Initiative

The education establishment that puts adults ahead of children and blocks every education effort imaginable, and, in some cases, even agrees to stand-down on reform legislation and then turns around less than 24 hours later and changes their position, is atwitter over the fact that Commissioner Chris Nicastro met with, conferred, and maybe even advised a group seeking to place an education-related initiative on the Missouri ballot.

A few quick thoughts:

1. The Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is, per §161.020, is appointed by the State Board of Education. It seems there’s fairly widespread confusion on this. It’s not the typical way a director of state department is appointed.

2. We have a past history in Missouri of technical problems with ballot initiatives. For example, the minimum wage initiative inadvertently undid decades of overtime practices for firefighters and nurses – to the detriment of both labor and management – and the legislature had to come back later to fix it. A second example comes from the renewable energy mandate – which is a little bit different – but where proponents sold their measure as only costing one percent of current energy costs and then later completed the bait-and-switch by convincing the PSC to hold that one percent really means 11 percent. Because of these examples (and I’m sure there are more), I think directors of state departments impacted by ballot initiatives which could plausibly make it to the ballot ought to consult and advise proponents of those initiatives to help avoid unintended consequences.