Capitol Commission Decides on New Stone

On Wednesday, May 9, the Missouri State Capitol Commission decided on the type of stone that will be used during the renovation of the State Capitol’s facade. The commission chose stone from the Phenix Marble Company, located outside of Springfield. This stone will be used to repair and renovate damaged sections of the State Capitol’s exterior and when the project is finished, stone mined from the Phenix quarry will make up 5 percent of the State Capitol’s facade. In fact, this stone comes from the same line as the original stone, quarried out of Carthage, used during the construction of the State Capitol. The renovation project is scheduled to finish in December 2020. The company’s quarry has been in use for more than 100 years, and I am proud to see a stone produced in our great state used to restore the State Capitol to its former glory.

Lawmakers Put Final Touches on 2019 Budget

The Missouri Constitution requires the members of the Missouri General Assembly to truly agree and finally pass a balanced budget that provides funding for the state’s agencies and departments. Passing a balanced budget is the only task required of lawmakers by the Missouri Constitution. Thirteen budget bills make up the state’s $28 billion spending plan for the 2019 fiscal year. Our budget represents the priorities of our state; it provides record funding for education and allocates additional resources for some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens while wisely spending your hard-earned tax dollars to provide state services.

Providing a quality, public school education is a priority of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. We all want to see our schools succeed, and I am proud to say the budget passed by my colleagues provides record funding for our state’s public schools. By providing an additional $98 million to the state’s education Foundation Formula, my colleagues and I voted to fully fund the formula for a second year in a row. In addition, our budget provides an additional $10 million in school transportation funding for our state’s public schools. In rural school districts, this additional funding is vital to ensuring children safely make it to school. Providing the necessary funding for our schools to succeed is a priority of every member of the Missouri General Assembly. A quality education not only provides Missouri’s children with the foundation they need to succeed, but it plays a major role in ensuring our communities prosper and the overall success of our state.

When the governor unveiled his proposed budget, it included a $68 million cut to our state’s colleges and universities. This proposed cut would have been devastating to Missouri’s higher education institutions, potentially crippling their ability to educate and develop our state’s workforce. However, budget leaders in the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate reversed the governor’s cut and provided the necessary core funding to our state’s public colleges and universities. In addition, the state’s 2019 spending plan provides $1.8 million in funding for a new dental program at Missouri Southern State University. Through the funding, MSSU will establish a satellite dental program in collaboration with the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Dentistry. Currently, almost 55 percent of Missouri’s dentists are over the age of 50, and of that number, 19 percent of our state’s dentists are over the age of 65. As many of our state’s dentists approach the age of retirement, I believe this new collaboration between MSSU and UMKC will play a vital role in educating our state’s next generation of dentists.

In addition, the state’s 2019 budget restores a cut made in last year’s budget to the Medicaid reimbursement rate paid to in-home care providers. By restoring this 1.5 percent cut, I believe the state will be able to provide valuable, life-saving resources to some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. The 2019 budget includes additional funding for increased reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients living in nursing homes. I was also proud to see my colleagues vote to maintain funding for several of our state’s autism programs. The state’s 2019 budget includes more than $13.6 million in funding intended to benefit programs and projects aimed at helping those who suffer from this devastating disorder. These funding decisions play an important role in ensuring our state’s most vulnerable citizens receive the assistance they need to improve their quality of life.

The budget passed by my colleagues represents our state’s priorities. By providing record funding to our state’s public schools and allocating increased state support to Missouri’s public colleges and universities, I believe we are sending a strong message that our state values education and is willing to do everything possible to prepare our students to succeed once they leave the classroom. I commend my colleagues, in both chambers, for their hard work and I believe the state’s 2019 operating budget represents a spending plan that will benefit all Missourians.