During his 2023 State of the State speech, Gov. Mike Parson addressed the big issues that matter most to Missouri workers and employers: child care access, workforce readiness, public safety and investment in Missouri’s highway system.
“Gov. Mike Parson’s priorities align with what we are hearing from employers across the state,” said Missouri Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan. “Today’s State of the State address shows Gov. Parson’s commitment to Missouri’s job creators, and we are anxious to get to work on many of the priorities he outlined.”
CHILD CARE SHORTAGES
Employers are struggling to fill open positions, and chronic child care shortages are keeping many Missourians out of the workforce. Gov. Parson is calling for increased child care facility support, tax credits for businesses who provide child care benefits and the expansion of pre-K public education.
When responding to the Missouri Chamber’s 2022 CEO Poll, 78 percent of business leaders said the expense and difficulty in finding child care keeps a significant number of Missourians out of the workforce.
“Businesses across Missouri are struggling to find workers, and it’s clear that the state’s growing child care crisis is at the center of the problem,” Mehan said. “This is an urgent issue, and we are grateful that the governor and state lawmakers are focused on working with the business community to identify solutions for this complex problem.”
A study released in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber in 2021 revealed that the lack of available child care is costing Missouri’s economy $1.35 billion annually.
According to the Missouri Chamber’s 2022 CEO Poll, workforce shortages are the top concern for 38 percent of the respondents. That’s why the Missouri Chamber supports the governor’s call to support our future workforce through increased teacher pay and more investment in robust training programs.
“We are encouraged by the governor’s support of Missouri’s public school teachers and additional tools for employers to retain their current workers through the expanded support of successful programs such as One Start and Fast Track,” Mehan said.
Gov. Parson also announced increased investment to create a number of workforce training programs, including apprenticeship programs to train workers in high-demand fields.
“Employers need workers now, and these types of programs are proven methods for getting Missourians the training and hands-on experience they need,” Mehan said.
According to the poll, two-thirds of employers said the rising crime rate in Missouri is impacting the state’s economic competitiveness. Most employers – 60 percent – said public safety and crime was a growing concern, while 24 percent of business leaders said it was currently their top concern.
Gov. Parson, once again, is calling for strong measures to address Missouri’s growing crime.
“Missouri’s business community is weighing in on the need to make more investments in law enforcement and the tools the police need to protect our citizens,” Mehan said. “We need to also address the root problems such as poverty, mental health and high recidivism rates. We greatly appreciate Gov. Parson’s work on these critical public safety needs.”
For too long, the United States has been dependent upon foreign manufacturing of essential microelectronics. The Missouri Chamber is extremely supportive of Gov. Parson’s proposal to invest $25 million to reshore microelectronics manufacturing to Missouri.
“About 75 percent of chip production today takes place in East Asia, and this puts our nation at risk,” Mehan said. “According to Technology 2030 research, Missouri is seventh in the nation for growth in advanced manufacturing jobs, so we are well positioned for this opportunity.”
Missouri’s east-west statewide I-70 corridor is vital to the global supply chains for many industries. Eighty-four percent of respondents surveyed in the Missouri CEO poll support leveraging state and federal funds to increase capacity.
The Missouri Chamber was pleased to hear Gov. Parson’s support of investment in Missouri’s Interstate 70. The governor is proposing an $859 million infusion in this transportation artery.
“Missouri’s location gives us the unique opportunity to be a logistics hub,” Mehan said. “But we cannot leverage that strength unless we invest in our interstate assets. We support the governor’s call for increased investment.”