Missouri’s 57th governor spoke to a joint session of the 100th General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. Gov. Mike Parson, a former lawmaker elected lieutenant governor in 2016, assumed the position as Missouri’s chief executive after then-Gov. Eric Greitens resigned on June 1, 2018.
It did not take Parson long to deliver the core of his message. “I stand before you today to share a vision — a vision that will chart Missouri’s future into the next decade,” Parson told lawmakers. “Missouri is dear to my heart, and by working together, we can protect and build a Missouri that is successful for the next generation.
“When we try to make everything a priority, the fact is nothing is truly a priority,” Parson said. “So let me be crystal clear: Cultivating and training our workforce for high-demand jobs and investing in critical infrastructure are the priorities we must address this session.”
The governor also announced a $22 million program to get people into new, high-demand jobs more quickly. Adults over the age of 25, with a household income of less than $80,000, could qualify for 100 percent tuition reimbursement to learn new skills in job fields such as nursing. “This will open the doors for Missourians to have opportunities to earn more money for their hard work,” Parson said.
Missouri Department of Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan said the program could put as many as 16,000 students into vocational schools.
Gov. Parson did not outline any new policy objectives for K-12 education. He did mention the partnership between Eldon Schools and Quaker Windows to ensure certain students have a mentor throughout high school. The program is designed to ensure that mentees not only receive a quality education and training, but are also taught valuable life skills, like the importance of showing up on time and having a strong work ethic.
Parson also noted Missouri’s high school graduation rate. “Missouri’s high school graduation rate is higher than most states. This is something we should all be proud of; however, we fall behind other states when we look at post-secondary education,” he said.
“We are well into the 21st century, and yes, extra levels of education are needed to meet the demands of our workforce and these jobs are going to provide higher wages, which will benefit Missouri families.”
In coordination with the State of the State Address, Gov. Mike Parson released his 2020 Executive Budget proposal. Revenues are estimated to grow by 1.7 percent in the current fiscal year, 2019. The governor and leaders in the House and Senate met earlier in the year and agreed that Missouri revenue is estimated to grow by 2 percent for fiscal year 2020 which begins on July 1, 2019.
Parson’s $30 billion dollar proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 is comprised of almost equal parts general revenue, federal funds and other funds. General revenue is estimated at just under $10 billion. Compared to fiscal year 2019, the state projects a growth of $193 million in general revenue.
The governor’s 2020 budget reflects his stated priorities of infrastructure and workforce development. A large portion of the infrastructure improvements in the budget include a proposed $351 million in bonding proceeds for 250 bridges statewide in need of critical repair or replacement, $50 million for a transportation cost-share program with local communities and $5 million for rural broadband expansion grants to expand high speed internet service. The governor’s budget further outlines that this expansion would help the 10 schools and many rural communities that lack access to high speed broadband.
Fully funding the elementary and secondary education foundation formula remains a priority for both the legislature and the governor. Parson’s budget adds just over $61 million to the formula, as well as an additional $10 million for student transportation costs. In other education priorities, the budget would add $3.1 million for Parents as Teachers and $450,000 to provide teacher computer science professional development programs.
Other budget items outlined include the elimination of 436 state jobs through attrition and over $182 million in government cuts to promote efficiency and wise stewardship of tax dollars, and a surplus of $116.7 million that would be set aside for future budget emergencies. The governor also proposes modernization of state computer systems, as well as the closure of Crossroads Correction Facility, a state prison in Cameron.
The Missouri House Budget Committee will soon begin their work on the budget, taking testimony from state departments and programs to determine their needs and prioritize spending. While the House is working on the budget, the Senate Appropriations Committee also takes testimony from state departments and interested individuals. Once the House passes a budget, the Senate will craft their own version. The budget bills will then be sent to a conference committee to work out differences between the chambers before it is sent to the governor for his approval or veto. The legislature must complete the state budget by May 10, 2019.
Leadership in the House and Senate announced committee chairs as well as members of committees in each legislative chamber. Below is a list of committees that will evaluate education bills. In addition to the House standing committee on Elementary and Secondary Education, Speaker Haahr created a Special Committee on Student Accountability.
House Elementary and Secondary Education
Rep. Roeber, Chair
Rep. Basye, Vice Chair
Rep. Morgan, Ranking Minority Member
Rep. Paula Brown
Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman
Rep. Pike, Chair
Rep. Rusty Black, Vice Chair
Rep. Richard Brown, Ranking Minority Member
Special Committee on Student Accountability
Rep. Spencer, Chair
Rep. Morse, Vice Chair
Rep. Burnett, Ranking Minority Member
Sen. Romine, Chair
Sen. Wallingford, Vice Chair
Senate Health and Pensions
Sen. Onder, Chair
Sen. Koenig, Vice Chair