The Best Part About Being a Lawmaker
In today’s day and age, it isn’t popular to be an elected official. We often get blamed for problems we didn’t cause, and we get second-guessed every time we vote on an issue — it’s frustrating. When people think of politicians, too often they point to the gridlock in Washington, D.C., or the constant bickering that takes place at all levels of government. Now, I will be the first to say that some of the blame is warranted, and our constituents deserve the best from us. However, there are times that make all of the headaches and disappointment worth it, and we are able to pass legislation that makes a difference in the lives of our constituents.
On Wednesday, July 20, I had the special privilege of joining the governor at a ceremonial bill signing ceremony for House Bill 3020. This legislation appropriated important funding to numerous improvement projects throughout our state. One of those projects happens to be right here in Jefferson City. An organization that’s near and dear to my heart, the Special Learning Center, received $3.5 million through HB 3020.
In 1985, the Special Learning Center was established to help children throughout our community with special needs. Through specially-designed preschool classes, comprehensive therapy services and family support, this organization strives to help every child they meet attain their maximum potential. Since its doors first opened more than 35 years ago, this organization has served more than 800 children with special needs each year. These children aren’t just from Jefferson City; they are from 11 counties and 22 school districts throughout the Mid-Missouri community.
The $3.5 million appropriation will help the Special Learning Center move forward with its plans to construct a new, state-of-the-art special education and pediatric therapy center. The new 20,000 square-foot facility will allow the organization to expand its therapy services, special education classes, autism program and child care center. Over the past five years, the organization has increased the number of children it serves by 30%, and the center’s administration anticipates double-digit growth over the next 2-3 years, based off of the number of children on their waiting list. Simply put, this much-needed expansion will allow the Special Learning Center to give more children access to critical, life-changing services.
In the Missouri Senate, I was proud to champion this important appropriation through the legislative process. I have seen firsthand the difference the team at the Special Learning Center makes in the life of a child. They are miracle workers, and knowing the funding they received through HB 3020 will allow them to continue to provide life-changing services to countless families for many years to come makes all of the long days in the Legislature worth it. For myself, Wednesday was a reminder on why I decided to pursue public office in the first place — the opportunity to make a difference in my community.
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.