UPDATE ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON: The Missouri House has given initial approval to the proposed “Fast Track” legislation”, by a voice vote. The vote happened Tuesday, and the bill needs one more approval from the House.
THE ORIGINAL STORY IS BELOW:
Legislation aimed at boosting workforce development in the Show-Me State could be debated this week by the Missouri House in Jefferson City.
Governor Mike Parson (R) proposed the “Fast Track” program during January’s State of the State Address. He’s asking lawmakers to approve $22 million for the program, which he says would allow Missourians to receive advanced training in high-demand areas primarily taught at community colleges, technical schools, and colleges and universities.
The governor held a roundtable discussion at the Statehouse on Thursday, where he was joined by lawmakers, Cabinet members, college presidents and business leaders.
Parson says it’s important to keep moving forward on workforce development. He’s calling on lawmakers to approve the bipartisan “Fast Track” legislation, which would provide grants for Missourians to attend an approved Missouri postsecondary institution of their choice.
“I think it’s long overdue that the executive branch and the legislators work together on meaningful legislation that is good for the entire state of Missouri,” Parson says.
Under House Bill 225 from State Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau, to be eligible, a student must be at least 25 years old and have an adjusted gross income of less than $80,000. The House Workforce Development Committee voted 14-0 last week to approve Swan’s bill. She chairs that committee.
Swan says the fastest-growing jobs through 2026 will be in the service sector, many requiring a certificate or a credential.
Governor Parson says cultivating and training Missouri’s workforce for high-demand jobs is a top priority for his administration. Fast Track is aimed at adults who are working toward a certification, undergraduate degree or a credential for a high-demand occupation.
“To meet our workforce needs, our state needs to create opportunities for Missourians to increase their skills and move into high-demand, high-paying jobs,” says Parson.
During January’s State of the State, the governor told lawmakers that Fast Track would benefit “tens of thousands of Missourians from every corner of the state.”
That line drew bipartisan applause in January, including praise from State Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon.
“We don’t need more college degrees, we need more people that can work and bring money back to their families,” Schroer told Missourinet that afternoon.
Representative Swan, Missouri Department of Higher Education Commissioner Zora Mulligan and Moberly Area Community College President Jeff Lashley were among those who participated in Thursday’s roundtable.
State Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, is sponsoring the Senate version.