“Highlights with Hegeman” for the Week of Jan. 24: Big Plans for Northwest Missouri

On Jan. 19, the governor called lawmakers together so he could present his ideas for the 2022 legislative session, which include his vision for the state operating budget for the next fiscal year. This speech is more commonly known as the State of the State address. This year, the executive branch has some big ideas with long-lasting intentions.

Missouri has been more fortunate than many other states. Where some states have seen large increases in unemployment, our state has been able to stay ahead of the curve. This gives us an advantage, in my opinion, and could allow for us to make some much needed infrastructure improvements at several state-operated buildings across not only northwest Missouri, but the entire Show-Me State.

At the same time, the governor has made a new commitment to paying state employees more. I believe the state needs to be more competitive. A lot of our care workers, corrections officers and others who work for the state can make more money in the private sector. While I usually applaud this, it can work against us, because these are the people who are the backbone of caring for and protecting the most vulnerable in our population. For instance, the Cameron Veterans’ Home is limited in the number of veterans it can serve because officials there only have about half the staff they currently need.

In addition, the governor has included approximately $400 million for broadband expansion in our state. This would be a huge benefit for rural Missouri. As we have learned during the coronavirus pandemic, having the ability to connect via the internet has become crucial, and expanding broadband capabilities throughout our state is something I believe must be done as soon as possible.

It is also important to note the governor’s blueprint is the first of many proposals we will see. The Missouri House of Representatives will start with committee hearings and appropriations bills that will eventually move to the Missouri Senate. As chair of the Missouri Senate Appropriations Committee, I assure you we will spend a great deal of time pouring over thousands of line items and create a spending plan that uses your money wisely. The only constitutional requirement for the Missouri General Assembly is to pass a balanced budget each year, and this something I take seriously.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.