Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parson received several bipartisan standing ovations during Wednesday’s State of the State Address in Jefferson City, and there were other instances where only Republicans applauded. Governor Parson is proposing about a $29 billion state operating budget. The Missouri Constitution requires state lawmakers to approve a balanced budget by early May.
Missourinet interviewed State Reps. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, and Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, after the governor’s address. You can listen to the full interview at the end of this article.
Governor Parson’s proposal to provide $22 million for a program to allow Missourians to receive advanced training in high-demand areas gets a thumbs-up from Schroer.
“We don’t need more college degrees, we need more people that can work and bring money back to their families,” Schroer says.
Representative Schroer is referring to a program called “Fast Track”, which the governor says will primarily be taught at community colleges, technical schools and colleges and universities.
Parson says the program will benefit “tens of thousands of Missourians” from every corner of the state.
Meantime, a state lawmaker from mid-Missouri’s Rocheport is praising the governor’s call to advance autism research. Representative Basye has filed bipartisan legislation that’s aimed at providing more insurance coverage for those with disabilities.
“I had a short talk with our new (House) Insurance Policy (Committee) Chair Noel Shull, and hopefully we can get that moving very quickly,” says Basye.
Shull, R-Kansas City, is in his final House term.
Basye’s bill would enhance existing insurance coverage for those with developmental disabilities, outside of the autism spectrum. It’s similar to legislation Basye filed in 2018. During the State of the State Address, Parson proposed $1 million in funding to ensure that families and parents impacted by autism have access to proper resources.
On the Democratic side, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee is worried about the state’s budget. State Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, tells Missourinet state revenues are down.
“We’re currently down 8.76 percent year-to-date right now,” Kendrick says. “Middle class surprise tax bills are coming, that’s a very real thing with the withholding error.”
Kendrick is referring to the state Department of Revenue’s inaccurate tax estimations. House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, has filed legislation that would grant taxpayers who owe less than $200 an extra two months to pay, without penalties or interest charges.
Quade tells Capitol reporters that Governor Parson should have addressed the Revenue mistake, during the address.
The governor also addressed Medicaid during the State of the State Address. About one million Missourians are currently on Medicaid, which provides low-income families and individuals with health care coverage.
Parson says safeguarding the integrity of the Medicaid program is crucial, noting that about one-third of Missouri’s $29 billion budget is devoted to the program. State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, who serves on the House Budget Committee, has filed legislation to expand Medicaid.
“We want workforce development, you have to have good, healthy people to be able to provide you that job to provide the work to be able to take care of their families,” says Lavender.
Lavender’s bill would send the Medicaid expansion issue to a statewide vote.
Basye says he supports Governor Parson’s emphasis on infrastructure and workforce development.
And Schroer, Kendrick and Lavender express support for the governor’s call for criminal justice reform.
“As Governor, I am not interested in building more prisons,” Parson tells lawmakers.
He received one of the loudest standing ovations of the day from both sides when he said that. State Reps. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, and Brandon Ellington, D-Kansas City, were the first to stand up and applaud that comment.
Republicans control the Missouri House 115-47.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Reps. Nick Schroer, R-O’Fallon, Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia and Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, which was recorded on January 16, 2019 at the Statehouse in Jefferson City:
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