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Home / News / Missouri News / Infrastructure and workforce development top priorities for Gov. Parson in 2021
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Missouri Governor Mike Parson addresses Capitol reporters in Jefferson City, after he declared a state of emergency in Missouri for coronavirus (March 13, 2020 photo courtesy of the Governor’s office)

Infrastructure and workforce development top priorities for Gov. Parson in 2021

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson promised to focus on workforce development and infrastructure development during his State of the State address recently.

“Time and again, our administration has addressed the challenges of our communities and our state head-on rather than leaving them for another day, another administration or another generation,” he said. “It is important that we continue to follow through on key investments in workforce development and infrastructure. We must also continue finding ways to strengthen public safety, improve health care and make state government more accountable.”

Among the highlights of the speech:

Workforce and education. Parson touted the importance of education to Missouri during his address, announcing the consolidation of several programs and divisions into the new Office of Childhood.

Infrastructure. Parson called for further investments into the state’s infrastructure, including more than $6 million for projects at established ports and $25 million for the transportation cost-share program established in 2019. “In just over one year, over 100 of Missouri’s poorest bridges have been repaired or replaced through our Focus on Bridges program,” he said.

His proposed budget also includes $100 million to clear a backlog of maintenance projects and a $5 million planned investment to continue expanding Missouri’s broadband infrastructure.

COVID-19. Parson outlined a number of goals related to the coronavirus pandemic, including much-discussed COVID liability protections and a Wayfair tax bill to allow the state to collect tax on online commerce , but it’s the Covid liability package he wants on his desk first. Parson said the state is recovering from the impact of the pandemic despite economic setbacks seen last year. The liability bill is also the most controversial as it forces businesses and churches to follow whatever guidelines outlined by local governments if they are to be protected from lawsuits.

Stronger communities. Parson praised the work of the Missouri Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission over the past year, from adding de-escalation techniques and implicit bias training to Missouri law enforcement’s required annual training to approving Lincoln University’s bid to house the first police academy in a historically black college.

Health care. The Republican governor also advocated for health care for the next year, proposing more than $4 million to bolster telehealth for Missourians with developmental disabilities and an additional $20 million for 50 new community mental health and substance use disorder clinics, as well as six crisis stabilization centers.

Government reform. Parson said his administration was committed to pushing for foster care and adoption reform, a focus of the lower chamber, which passed legislation on the subject Wednesday morning.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice