COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Gov. Mike Parson touted plans to make major investments in broadband Internet access and education during a tour of the University of Missouri’s NextGen building and a roundtable with state and education leaders Friday.
Parson started off the roundtable discussion by saying that this legislative session is a chance to properly fund education initiatives.
“Sometimes a lot of smoke and not much fire, but we have the opportunity of a lifetime to get it right and what we are going to be able to do in the next generations and the next generations after that,” Parson said.
Missouri has received $470 million in federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act, which has increased the state’s budget.
“That money is here and it is our job to invest it,” Parson said. The governor explained the education environment for the workforce development piece is critical.
“You gotta have two things, you have to have the infrastructure in place to support the education communities, you have to be able to have the workforce of tomorrow ready to go and you gotta have the infrastructure in place to support it,” Parson said. “Those two things are not political issues whatsoever, those two things are what’s good for the state of Missouri.”
The governor went on to say that this year will be phase one and that he plans to build a foundation this year that will be built on for years to come. Parson promised state investment in education and workforce development in a variety of areas.
Parson said he wants to encourage more teachers to join the workforce. A proposal is on the table to increase teachers’ pay.
Parson told officials that although he knew child care was an issue before the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic made child care a higher priority. But access to child care is critical to keeping people in the workforce and pursuing educational goals, he said.
Parson said the state plans to invest $400 million in broadband Internet improvements, as well.
Check back for updates to this developing story.