Gov. Parson outlines infrastructure, government reform, public safety, more in State of the State Address
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - Governor Mike Parson delivered his State of the State Address on late Wednesday afternoon, January 18.
His speech centered on the state’s infrastructure, workforce and education, mental health, government reform and public safety.
“Together, we’ve moved billions of dollars in investments across this state. Whether you live in Kansas City or St. Louis, call Kennett or Rockport home, grow corn or cotton, vote left, right, or center, we’ve left no community behind,” Governor Parson said. “Missouri is stronger today, and we’re going to continue what we’ve started because this governor isn’t done yet. We are not done yet.”
The governor discussed investments in infrastructure, including $250 million to continue broadband expansion efforts and $35 million to update railway crossings across the state so they meet modern safety standards.
He called on the general assembly to make a generational investment to widen and rebuild the I-70 corridor. He said this plans invests $859 million and expands six lanes from St. Louis to Warrenton, Kansas City to Odessa and extending both east and west from Columbia.
“For years, congestion, traffic accidents, and delays have become serious issues for commuters on I-70. Not only are we concerned for motorist safety, these inefficiencies are costly to our state’s economy,” Governor Parson said. “To those who say we can’t afford it, I say we can’t afford not to. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the time is now.”
Workforce Development and Education
Governor Parson discussed the progress being made in education funding, teacher pay and workforce development.
In 2023, he said his budget proposal adds $117 million to fully fund the foundation formula, $233 million for school transportation needs, $32 million to expand the Career Ladder Program and continues the Teacher Baseline Salary Program that raised teacher pay from $25,000 to $38,000 per year.
The governor also requested $56 million to expand -pre-kindergarten options to all four-year-old children eligible for free and reduced priced lunch at no cost.
He said he included $78 million to increase child care subsidy rates and establish three new child care tax credit programs: Child Care Contribution Tax Credit, Employer-Provided Child Care Assistance Tax Credit, Child Care Providers Tax Credit.
“Missouri businesses consistently rank the lack of child care options as a barrier to recruiting and retaining employees, and we have an opportunity to assist,” Governor Parson said. “Together these supports will help serve more Missouri families by enabling more child care providers to remain in business, start their business, or expand their business.”
He also recommended several investments in workforce development and higher education, including:
- $275 million for transformational capital improvement projects at Missouri’s public higher education institutions
- Seven percent ($71 million) increase in core funding to Missouri’s public higher education institutions - the largest increase in 25 years
- $38 million for MoExcels workforce development projects on college campuses
- $3 million for Apprenticeship Missouri
- $2.2 million to modernize Missouri’s 27 job centers
- $800,000 for Governor Parson’s Fast Track program
- $500,000 for Jobs for America’s Graduates
The governor asked legislators to immediately act on his plans to provide an 8.7 percent cost of living adjustment for all state workers and increase the shift deferential to $2 per hour pay for team members working in congregate care facilities during high-demand evening and overnight shifts.
He also discussed including $22 million for the Missouri Department of Social Services’ Children’s Division to hire more support staff and extend support to struggling families and children. He said the division remains “critically understaffed and under-resourced.”
Health and Mental Health Care
The governor requested $3.5 million to expand the state’s youth behavioral health liaison program and add 27 more liaisons across the state.
In addition, his budget includes $4 million for Certified Nursing Assistant training programs to increase the number of people receiving CNA training.
According to the governor’s office, Missouri currently ranks 44th in the United States for maternal mortality. The governor asked the general assembly to allocate $4.3 million to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for a new maternal mortality plan.
“Frankly, it is embarrassing and absolutely unacceptable for us to be failing in this area,” Governor Parson said. “We must do better. If we can’t get it right for our mothers and children across our sate, we might as well pack our bags and let someone else occupy these seats. Let’s support mothers, let’ support our children, and let’s support the future of Missouri.”
During his speech, the governor expressed his continued support for Missouri’s law enforcement officers.
He discussed the success of the Missouri Blue Scholarship, which, so far, has awarded scholarships to 147 people so they can attend law enforcement training academies in Missouri.
The governor proposed $50 million for school safety grants so Missouri schools could make changes to their campuses, develop safety plans, establish school resource officer programs and increase active threat trainings.
To end his speech, the governor invited students from Missouri’s seven public Blue Ribbon Schools onto the House floor, where he introduced them and highlighted their American Dream.
“It’s them, their future, their dream, their American Dream that state government MUST support – that we in this building must come together to fight for. It’s our privilege and our responsibility,” the governor said. “Like Teresa and me, the American Dream should be achievable for ALL, never the exception for some.”
“Your children, your grandchildren, these Missouri children are the future. The future of our state, our nation, and our democracy. If we fail to provide them with the tools for success then the failures of tomorrow are the failures of today,” he continued. “For you, your kids, your grandkids, and your families, this governor, this dad, and this gramps is not done yet. We are not done yet.”
You can read the FY2024 Budget in Brief here.
The FY24 Executive Budget is available online here.
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