CAPITOL REPORT: REPRESENTATIVE PATRICIA PIKE

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

Looking back, the past year was a good one for Missouri in many ways. It was a year marked by strong economic growth and job creation, and consistently low unemployment. It was also a year that saw the General Assembly create tools that will prepare Missouri workers for the jobs of tomorrow, and invest in the state’s transportation system to meet the needs of future generations.

As 2020 begins, Missouri is fortunate to have only 3.1 percent unemployment across the state. This figure is one that has been consistently lower than the national average. Overall, the state has seen more than 37,000 new jobs created across key industries over the last year. Signs of Missouri’s healthy, growing economy can also be seen in the state’s revenue figures. To date the state has seen revenue growth of more than 7 percent, which equates to an additional $300 million in the state’s coffers when compared to the same time last year. Missouri’s revenue growth to this point is well ahead of what was predicted by the state’s consensus revenue estimate.

Legislatively, the General Assembly worked with Gov. Parson to approve legislation that will spur further economic development in the state. The legislature passed bills to give the Missouri Department of Economic Development additional tools to bring new jobs to Missouri, and to retain existing auto manufacturing jobs. Lawmakers also worked with the governor to create the Missouri One Start Program, which is a customized training program meant to provide companies with the resources to train or upskill their employees. The program is meant to ensure businesses have the right workforce with the right skillset when they need them, and it is on track to train more than 42,000 workers statewide.

During the 2019 session, legislators worked with Gov. Parson to make new investments to repair and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure. The General Assembly approved $50 million in general revenue in the fiscal year 2020 state budget to repair or replace approximately 45 bridges throughout the state and another $50 million for a cost-share program. Legislators also approved a resolution that authorizes MoDOT to bond $301 million to repair or replace an additional 215 bridges. When combined with federal transportation funding the state has obtained, Missouri is now on track to significantly improve its highways and bridges so that they are better able to meet the transportation needs of Missourians.

2019 was also a good year for education in Missouri. The legislature provided record funding for elementary and secondary education by once again fully funding the School Foundation Formula. Lawmakers also approved an increase in the core funding for most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities. This commitment to education funding has helped the state move closer to its higher education goal of seeing 60 percent of working-age adults earn a certificate or degree by 2025. As of 2019, the percentage is at 53.7, and Missouri has seen the raw number of college graduates increase by 11.6 percent over of the past eight years. This includes a 26 percent increase in technical and community college graduates.

While the state experienced prosperity and success on many fronts in 2019, it also saw tragedy and loss as natural disasters in the forms of tornadoes and flooding impacted agriculture and communities. These acts of nature inflicted severe damage, but they also served as a reminder of the strength and perseverance of Missourians. Across the state, friends and neighbors rallied together to offer help to those in need. Communities came together to help ensure those who were devastated by the weather were able to work toward recovery.

The Missouri General Assembly will convene on January 8 for the 2020 legislative session. In our 126th District, I will be riding with our area MoDOT Engineer Friday, January 10th (and on future dates) reviewing Vernon and Bates County transportation systems.  If you have a road, highway, or bridge concern, please contact my office by phone or email and provide the location.

Contact Representative Pike at Patricia.Pike@house.mo.gov or call 573-751-5388 with your comments and for assistance on state issues, resolutions, flags, and visits in District and at the Capitol.  Our 126th District Office is open year-round at the Missouri Capitol, Monday through Thursday – 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in Room 404A.

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