Mike Parson outlines how State of the State applies to Southwest Missouri

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson outlined his goals during his State of the State address at the Capitol Wednesday.

Today Erin Sullivan sat down with the Governor to hear how these efforts will impact Southwest Missouri in 2020.

Erin Sullivan/Reporting:
So, what I wanted to start off with is how you addressed roads and bridges. And I know you actually came to Jasper County late last year to survey some of those deteriorating bridges. So now that you’re working on making those investments, what does that look like in southwest Missouri?

Governor Mike Parson:
“Yeah I think it’s going to be a tremendous advantage for southwest Missouri. I think with some of the bridges that we visited and some of the bonding that we’re going to do we’re going to end up replacing or repairing 250 bridges across the state. A lot of that will be in southwest Missouri. But I think more importantly is the money that it frees up to be able to utilize for other projects. And I think the cost share program is going to pay off big for Joplin, Jasper County, Southwest Missouri. They’re going to be able to use that 50-50 money to do projects down there.”

And when we think about our infrastructure, our roads and bridges, much like a lot of the state it seems like we’re always kind of holding our breath for what kind of damage the flooding could do. And then making sure our infrastructure can handle the severe weather that we get.

Governor Mike Parson:
“Needless to say last year was one of the toughest years we’ve had historically probably for floods. I think one of the most important things we did last year, when we saw that it could be a problem and we were concerned about it, we did put money aside. Again in the State of the State I said we will put more money aside to be able to handle that situation. And the sad news on the flooding side of it, there’s a lot of levees still out, we’ve got a lot of repairs to do. And that’s not going to happen until Spring rolls around again. So right now you know, we just hope we get through this next spring without heavy rains, without really wet weather. We’re just trying to prepare for next Spring.”

I also wanted to talk about medical marijuana. We have two facilities here in southwest Missouri that are expected to be growing. There’s going to be hurdles and road bumps along the way, so tell me about why you guys limited the amount of approved growing facilities?

Governor Mike Parson:
“You know we’re trying to do what other states have done. Trying to learn from the other states, frankly the mistakes they’ve made. We’re trying to make sure we don’t go down those roads. And the other thing, I think we want to take our time implementing this process to make sure everything does work and that we don’t get into some problems on that.”

Do you think that recreational marijuana could be in the future for Missouri?

Governor Mike Parson:
“Oh I’m sure there’s going to be discussion about that in the future you know right now I think we’ve got all we can worry about with Medical Marijuana. Trying to figure out how we’re going to implement that and so right now we’re focused on that. We’re not even having a conversation about recreational marijuana.”

You really have been emphasizing, especially in the last year, your workforce development. How are you hoping to get the word out and boost those programs this year?

Governor Mike Parson:
“Yeah I think that’s going to be a real priority for us, to get that word out. Matter of fact, we’re going to take it into the high schools next year. We’re going to start making high school students work ready. Make sure that they know what jobs are available out there. To get away from the stigma that if you don’t have a college degree, somehow you’re a failure, you’re not doing a good job. 70% of the people in this state do not have 4 year degrees. And that is our workforce. So we really need to start finding ways to give them the skills they need, the trades they need, and to make them productive and successful. Because that is the demand of the future.”

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