Office of Governor, Michael L. Parson
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Governor Mike Parson delivered the 2022 State of the State Address to the Missouri General Assembly on Wednesday, January 19.
Following a recap of 2021 and Missouri’s Bicentennial year, Governor Parson proclaimed that Missouri is strong today and will be even stronger tomorrow.
Governor Parson’s speech focused on budget priorities and America Rescue Plan Act spending goals for 2022: workforce and education, infrastructure, agriculture, community development, health care and public safety.
“With a historic budget surplus and federal dollars coming to our state, we want to build on our past momentum to capture even greater opportunities for the future of Missourians,” Governor Parson said. “When other states will be filling spending gaps and budget shortfalls, we will be making investments in the future, because in Missouri, we took a common sense approach to the pandemic, never shutdown businesses, and have always had a conservative and balanced budget.”
Workforce and Education
During his speech, Governor Parson expressed that now is the time to double down on workforce development and skill up Missouri’s workforce. To do this, Governor Parson called for the Missouri Fast Track program to be permanently established, $31 million for colleges and universities through MoExcels and $20 million for the state’s 57 area career centers.
To further support the education of Missouri’s children, Governor Parson proposed multiple investments in K-12 education, including fully funding the Foundation Formula and raising starting pay for Missouri teachers to $38,000 per year.
“Last year, 95 percent of Missouri schools saw the value of in-person learning and did the right thing by keeping their doors open and our kids in schools where they belong,” Governor Parson said. “We know the vast majority of Missouri educators get it right day-in and day-out, and no one in this chamber would be where they are today without quality educators in their lives, myself included.”
For Missouri Higher Education, Governor Parson called for nearly $470 million to fund the top capital improvement projects at state community colleges and four-year institutions. Combined, Governor Parson recommended nearly $600 million in higher education investments that are expected to generate over $1.1 billion in economic impact for the state, strengthen communities assets and bolster workforce development programs.
Governor Parson also recognized that in order for Missouri to be successful, the state must recruit and retain talented public servants across state government. To do this, Governor Parson called on the General Assembly to pass an immediate 5.5 percent cost of living adjustment for all state employees.
To build on the state’s past successes, Governor Parson again called for major investments in infrastructure, including $75 million for the Transportation Cost-Share program established by his administration in 2019, $100 million for low-volume roads across the state, and $400 million for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.
Additionally, Governor Parson called for $400 million toward broadband expansion projects statewide, the single largest broadband investment in state history. This proposal would connect 75,000 households, expand access to rural areas and underserved urban areas, and update and expand wireless networks across the state.
Governor Parson also reminded the General Assembly of the continued need to support Missouri agriculture, the state’s number one economic driver.
To help ensure the agriculture way of life remains strong and can be passed down to the next generations, Governor Parson called for $10 million to expand agriculture innovation and workforce programs.
Governor Parson announced, that with the General Assembly’s approval, the state can make meaningful long-term investments in local communities by allocating $250 million for a statewide revitalization program. With local matching, this competitive grant program will encourage strategic local investments to revitalize communities spur local economic recovery and growth.
Additionally, Governor Parson expressed how more citizens and travelers are experiencing Missouri’s great outdoors. To complement this state asset, expand tourism, and drive small business growth and job creation, Governor Parson proposed investing $69 million to begin construction of the Rock Island Trail, which will become the largest circular rail-to-trail network in the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic further revealed the need to strengthen health care networks across the state. That is why Governor Parson proposed $34 million to increase telehealth and telemedicine services in rural communities and the construction of a new multi-agency health lab to increase cross-collaboration for safer, healthier Missourians.
Additionally, Governor Parson called for doubling the capacity of Missouri’s six Autism Centers to help more families navigate the challenges of diagnosing and treating autism as well as reduce wait times for families needing services.
During his speech, Governor Parson expressed his continued support for Missouri’s law enforcement officers. He also recalled last year when Missouri established the first law enforcement training academy at a Historically Black College and University at Lincoln University.
“We must work to strengthen our communities by supporting our men and women in law enforcement and learn from the failed policies in other cities and states to never allow anti-law enforcement measures to take hold in this state,” Governor Parson said. “In Missouri, we defend law enforcement, not defund them.”
This year, Governor Parson proposed investing $11 million to upgrade Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) academies and provide more scholarships for law enforcement officers to receive POST certification and put more officers on the streets. These investments will aid with recruitment and retention efforts statewide and help keep communities safer.
Additionally, Governor Parson asked the General Assembly to invest nearly $140 million in certain community health centers across the state for vital capital improvements to help meet the increased demand for mental health and substance use disorder services.
Governor Parson also called on the Legislature to establish a Cash Operating Expense Fund that sets aside 2.5 percent of general revenue to mitigate budget cuts and provide greater flexibility during emergencies.
“With a Cash Operating Expense Fund, we can achieve financial stability when the rainy days come,” Governor Parson said. “This is the responsible thing to do, this is the conservative thing to do, and this is the right thing to do.”
2022 State of the State Special Guests
During his speech, Governor Parson also recognized special guests for their achievements and commitment to the people of Missouri:
Governor Parson concluded today’s State of the State Address by recalling when Corporal Jared Schmitz made his final return home and he witnessed the true strength of Missouri: its people.
“When times are hard, Missourians move forward. When someone is down, Missourians lift them up,” Governor Parson said. “These past years have been tough and dividing for a lot of people, but Missourians stay true; they give their best; and they always put others first.”
“When we look to the future and not dwell in the past, when we find solutions instead of problems, when we stand together instead of apart, we can accomplish anything. We must always Keep Pushing Forward in this state, because no one is coming to do it for us,” Governor Parson continued. “Missouri is STRONG today and will be EVEN STRONGER tomorrow.”