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PERSPECTIVE: Governor laid out priorities for session

by State Rep. Willard Haley, R-Eldon, Mo. | January 25, 2023 at 3:05 a.m.

The Legislature was not in session Jan. 16 to recognize Martin Luther King Day. We returned to the Capitol the next day, and it was highlighted by the swearing-in ceremony for Vivek Malek, our new state treasurer.

Malek was chosen by Gov. Mike Parson to replace Scott Fitzpatrick, who resigned to take over his new role as state auditor, following his election last November.

The overall highlight of the week was Parson's State of the State address. Members of the Missouri House and Senate gathered in the House chamber to listen to Parson outline his priorities for the 2023 legislative session.

He used his annual address to convey a theme of "We are not done yet" as he called on legislators to make key investments in infrastructure improvements, public safety, workforce development, elementary and secondary education, higher education, health and mental health care, and to reform Missouri's Department of Social Services' Children's Division.

Parson began the speech by thanking the Legislature for the work they've done together to enact the state's largest income tax cut and provide support for agriculture. His speech also focused on the progress state government has made in infrastructure, workforce and education, mental health and health, government reform and public safety.

"Together, we've moved billions of dollars in investments across this state. Whether you live in Kansas City or St. Louis, call Kennett or Rockport home, grow corn or cotton, vote left, right or center, we've left no community behind," said Parson. "Missouri is stronger today, and we're going to continue what we've started because this governor isn't done yet. We are not done yet."

During his speech, Parson asked legislators to focus their efforts on several areas. Related to infrastructure, the governor prioritized major investments to continue to expand broadband accessibility, to update railway crossings and to invest in widening and rebuilding the I-70 corridor.

Our governor also is recommending for us to fully fund the education foundation formula and school transportation, while expanding the career ladder program, and continuing the baseline salary program. He is also requesting to expand pre-kindergarten options and to strengthen the child care network. His proposed tax credits for child care providers will enable more of these businesses to start, expand and to remain in business.

The Women Legislators of Missouri Caucus have announced they are once again sponsoring 16 $1,000 college scholarships available to graduating seniors across Missouri. The WLM Caucus created the senior scholarship program to provide financial assistance to young women on the basis of leadership, academics and community service. Candidates must fill out an application and are required to submit a 500-word essay answering the question, "If you were a state legislator, what is one specific goal you would hope to achieve and why?" A link to download the scholarship is located at http://bit.ly/molegwomen.

January is National Blood Donor Month. It serves as a time to recognize that roughly 3 percent of the population in the United States donates blood each year. The winter months are typically the leanest in donations due to inclement weather and seasonal illnesses. Someone in this country needs blood every two seconds, and a single donation can save up to three people's lives. The need is enormous. I personally donated my first unit when I was in college. I have earned my 10-gallon pin, and I will continue to give as long as I can. Please consider giving blood yourself. Go to www.redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive near you.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns, contact me at 573-751-2077 or email [email protected]

State Rep. Willard Haley represents Missouri House District 58, which includes parts of Miller, Morgan and Moniteau counties.

Print Headline: Governor laid out priorities for session

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