During the governor’s recent State of the State Address, he stated that workforce development and improving the state’s infrastructure were his top priorities. These are two issues that I know are shared priorities for Northeast Missouri. 

While discussing workforce development, the governor introduced the concept of industry recognized credentials as part of Missouri’s high school curriculum. I support this initiative because it shortens the time period between graduation and entering the workforce. For example, if a student took up welding in high school, those records of completion would transfer to companies of interest, opening up job opportunities right after high school.

When it comes to moving our state forward, I believe we need to continue to look at ways to consolidate state government. A recent meeting with the Missouri Department of Economic Development revealed that there have been 500 non-essential employees on staff for the past two years. The primary function of government is not to create its own workforce growth. While I applaud the governor’s efforts to address the size and scope of this particular department in his address, it’s important that we don’t just shuffle state employees from one department to another.  

I also support the governor’s proposal to address the infrastructure needs of our state in a nontraditional sense, which includes funding for the expansion of high-speed internet. I certainly support the governor’s call to expand access to high-speed internet, especially in school districts in the Northeastern part of the state.  

Finally, the governor also announced his support of bonding to fund improvements to the state’s roads and bridges. After voters have repeatedly opposed various taxes for roads, we will now be considering putting increased spending on something like a line of credit. Voters have opposed tax increases for transportation because there is not a lot of public trust in MODOT. There are many concerns that MODOT does not allocate their funds as they should, partially due to federal mandates. I do not think putting the state in debt changes that problem, but I appreciate the governor using some creativity to address this important issue.

The policies that have been outlined by governor will take robust debate in the legislative process. If we want to see reform throughout our state, it cannot just be up to one chamber, agency or director to lead the charge. We need to make tough decisions that align with the values of all Missourians.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.o’laughlin@senate.mo.gov.