Building a Stronger, Safer Missouri
On Jan. 19, lawmakers from both legislative chambers gathered together to hear the governor deliver his State of the State address. This annual speech gives the governor the opportunity to discuss our state’s successes during the past year and highlight areas of improvement. This year, the governor spoke about how Missouri has a solid foundation from which to build off of and that now is the time to make historic investments in our state.
A central focus of the governor’s address was the strength of Missouri’s economy. Over the past year, we’ve been fortunate to see a slew of businesses making investments all across the state to create new jobs and new opportunities for Missourians. To help support this growth, the governor voiced continued support for key workforce development programs aimed at training and recruiting the next generation of Missouri workers. These programs, together with Missouri’s pro-business climate, will ensure we can fill the needs of high-in-demand and good-paying jobs. The governor also reiterated his support for a 5.5% pay increase for our hardworking and dedicated state employees. This pay raise is designed to improve retention and further strengthen the operation of state government. Additionally, the governor proposed raising the baseline salaries for Missouri teachers who have been working harder than ever to educate our students.
Missouri’s commonsense and fiscally conservative approach also provides us with the opportunity to invest in other important areas of our state. The governor proposed plans to further invest in broadband access and initiatives to promote economic development in rural communities. He also prioritized the renewal of critical agriculture tax credits, which expired at the end of 2021. All of this is meant to help build a better, stronger Missouri and ensure we are ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Back in the Senate, I presented Senate Bill 664 to the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on Jan. 18. This bill makes a small, yet profound change to state law by making individuals found guilty of second degree murder when they were under the age of 18 ineligible for early parole. Last year, the Legislature passed legislation expanding parole opportunities, but made an unfortunate change allowing these individuals to seek parole after serving only 15 years – and often well before their sentence has been fully served. Senate Bill 664 aims to fix that. The committee heard from several members of our community who came forward to share their stories about losing family members to senseless violence. Together, I’m confident we will correct this issue, protect victims’ families and ensure murderers stay behind bars where they belong.
As always, I am honored to serve the citizens of the 6th Senatorial District. Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.