CAPITOL REPORT: REPRESENTATIVE PATRICIA PIKE
General Assembly Convenes for State Address
Dear Citizens: Members of the Missouri General Assembly gathered in the House Chamber Wednesday afternoon to listen to the annual State of the State Address delivered by Gov. Mike Parson. Parson used the address to deliver the message to the people of Missouri that the state “is strong today and will be even stronger tomorrow.”
Parson’s speech focused on budget priorities and American Rescue Plan Act spending goals for 2022 including workforce and education, infrastructure, agriculture, community development, health care, and public safety.
Parson said, “With a historic budget surplus and federal dollars coming to our state, we want to build on our past momentum to capture even greater opportunities for the future of Missourians. When other states will be filling spending gaps and budget shortfalls, we will be making investments in the future, because in Missouri, we took a common sense approach to the pandemic, never shutdown businesses, and have always had a conservative and balanced budget.”
- Workforce and Education – During his speech, Parson called for the Missouri Fast Track program to be permanently established, $31 million for colleges and universities through MoExcels, and $20 million for the state’s 57 area career centers. Parson proposed multiple investments in K-12 education, including fully funding the Foundation Formula and raising starting pay for Missouri teachers to $38,000 per year. Parson also recommended nearly $600 million in higher education investments that are expected to generate over $1.1 billion in economic impact for MO, strengthen communities’ assets and bolster work force development programs.
- Infrastructure -Parson called for major investments in infrastructure, including $75 million for the Transportation Cost-Share program established by his administration in 2019, $100 million for low-volume roads across the state, and $400 million for drinking water, wastewater, and storm water systems. Additionally, Parson called for $400 million toward broadband expansion projects statewide, the single largest broadband investment in state history. This proposal would connect 75,000 households, expand access to rural areas and underserved urban areas, and update and expand wireless networks across the state.
- Agriculture – During his speech, Parson reminded the General Assembly of the continued need to support Missouri agriculture, the state’s number one economic driver. Parson called for $10 million to expand agriculture innovation and workforce programs.
- Community Development – Parson asked legislators to make meaningful long-term investments in local communities by allocating $250 million for a statewide revitalization program. With local matching, the competitive grant program will encourage strategic local investments to revitalize communities and spur local economic recovery and growth. To expand tourism, and drive small business growth and job creation, Parson proposed investing $69 million to begin construction of the Rock Island Trail, which will become the largest circular rail-to-trail network in the United States.
- Health Care – To strengthen health care networks across the state, Parson proposed $34 million to increase telehealth and telemedicine services in rural communities and the construction of a new multi-agency health lab to increase cross-collaboration for safer, healthier Missourians. Parson also called for doubling the capacity of Missouri’s six Autism Centers to help more families navigate the challenges of diagnosing and treating autism as well as reduce wait times for families needing services.
- Public Safety – During his speech, Parson expressed his continued support for Missouri’s law enforcement officers. Parson proposed investing $11 million to upgrade Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) academies and provide more scholarships for law enforcement officers to receive POST certification and put more officers on the streets. These investments will aid with recruitment and retention efforts statewide and help keep communities safer. Additionally, Parson asked the General Assembly to invest nearly $140 million in certain community health centers across the state for vital capital improvements to help meet the increased demand for mental health and substance use disorder services.
- Legislative Priorities – Parson also called on the members of the House and Senate to establish a Cash Operating Expense Fund that sets aside 2.5 percent of general revenue to mitigate budget cuts and provide greater flexibility during emergencies.
Parson concluded his speech by saying, “When we look to the future and not dwell in the past, when we find solutions instead of problems, when we stand together instead of apart, we can accomplish anything. We must always keep pushing forward in this state, because no one is coming to do it for us. Missouri is strong today and will be even stronger tomorrow.”
For more information, contact Representative Patricia Pike at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-751-5388.