A Historic State of the State
Likely for the first time in Missouri history, the governor’s annual State of the State Address was not delivered inside the House chamber this year. Instead, the governor delivered his remarks in the Senate chamber to a smaller, socially distanced audience. It was an enjoyable experience, and a great honor to welcome the governor back to the Senate chamber.
As he has done throughout his administration, the governor stressed workforce development and infrastructure investment. He asked the Legislature to continue funding road and bridge improvements and ensure our critical infrastructure is cared for. He also called for investment in the information superhighway, with additional funding for rural broadband and telemedicine technology.
The governor proposed a $34 billion budget for 2022, with many of his priority requests aimed at preparing Missourians for the 21st-century workplace. I believe we’re moving beyond the idea that every young person needs to go to college. Instead, we’re developing programs that help people enter technical fields, where they earn good livings working with their hands. Increasingly, education is focused on earning associates degrees or technical certificates that qualify workers to compete in today’s advanced workplaces.
Traditional education is not being ignored, though. The governor’s budget fully funds the elementary and secondary education Foundation Formula. He’s also asking for more money for colleges. This week, the governor announced the creation a new Office of Childhood, which consolidates several programs currently guided by the departments of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and Social Services (DSS). The new office, to be housed within DESE, will not require additional funding, but the governor says it will bring greater efficiency and a renewed focus on early childhood education.
This week, the Senate passed its first bill for the 2021 legislative session. Senate Bill 2, which I co-sponsored, expands the Missouri Works jobs incentive program to include part-time military employment. It’s our hope allowing tax credits for part-time National Guard duty or civilian support personnel will make Missouri facilities more attractive for military planners as they locate new units or reassign programs. Currently, the U.S. Air Force is looking to locate an aeromedical transport squadron and the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing, based at St. Joseph’s Rosecrans Memorial Airport, is in the running to host it.
Finally, I’m pleased to announce I have been asked to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Missouri Legislature has only one responsibility specifically mandated in the Constitution: We must pass a balanced budget each year. My service on the Appropriations Committee will provide greater opportunity to participate in that process and advocate for financial priorities of my constituents in Platte and Buchanan County. I am honored by this assignment and I look forward to taking on this new role.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at (573) 751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.