Missouri Business Headlines

State budget boldly invests in Missouri’s potential

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Seizing a historic opportunity, Missouri lawmakers have passed a budget that boldly invests in Missouri’s economic potential. The state’s new budget, subject to approval from Gov. Mike Parson, wisely makes use of an exceptional state revenue situation to spur progress in key economic areas such as addressing the childcare crisis, bolstering high-tech manufacturing, enhancing our infrastructure, investing in education and much more.

“This year’s state budget represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make targeted investments in Missouri’s future,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber. “Gov. Mike Parson and our lawmakers seized on the opportunity and crafted a budget that takes a bold yet fiscally responsible approach that will pay dividends for decades to come.”

Addressing the $1.35 billion childcare crisis

Included in the budget is a new $10 million program that will provide grants up to $250,000 to help businesses form partnerships with childcare providers or establish dedicated childcare centers to serve employees. Small businesses will also be encouraged to band together and offer this benefit. An additional $10 million was dedicated to establish a grant program that will help to provide childcare for essential workers, including state employees.

The need for funding this year was driven by a report showing that Missouri’s childcare crisis is costing the state a staggering $1.35 billion, according to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Chamber Foundation.

The report showed that many Missouri parents want to work but can’t because they can’t find childcare. The problem is so severe that nearly 1 in 10 working parents in Missouri report quitting a job due to childcare issues, and nearly one in three parents have changed jobs due to childcare in the last year. The situation is contributing to the workforce shortage impacting industries across Missouri.

“Workforce remains the number one issue impacting business growth across Missouri — with the childcare crisis being a major contributing factor. Thanks to this new funding, Missouri will be on the leading edge as businesses work to develop innovative childcare models that will help parents get back to work,” said Mehan. “Missouri lawmakers deserve much credit for their urgent response to this issue after the Missouri Chamber sounded the alarm. We look forward to working with businesses across Missouri to take advantage of this opportunity to help solve their workforce challenges by prioritizing childcare.”

The Missouri Chamber Federation, comprised of local chambers of commerce, will seek to play a leading role in helping businesses access this funding and enhance the childcare options in communities across Missouri.

Competing for high-tech manufacturing

In response to recent global supply chain disruptions, the Missouri Chamber championed a $15 million appropriation supporting efforts to onshore targeted high-tech manufacturing industries that are vital to national security in Missouri. The funding will go toward helping Missouri bolster semiconductor and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing infrastructure as those industries look to grow in the U.S.

This is an urgent situation as 72% of essential medicines have no U.S. source. The vast majority of active pharmaceutical ingredients are produced overseas. Likewise, the global semiconductor shortage shows no signs of improving as industries have had to halt production while awaiting needed computer chips. Missouri is uniquely positioned to leverage the state’s manufacturing and technological strengths to address this problem.

“There are strong national security and economic arguments being made right now about the need to onshore semiconductor and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing. As these industry functions look to expand in the United States, we think Missouri — a leading state for tech manufacturing growth — stands to benefit,” said Mehan. “If we succeed in attracting this industry expansion, the effects will ripple across our economy for decades to come.”

Connecting through infrastructure

The budget also makes investments in some of the unique transportation assets that capitalize on our state’s well-connected location. This includes $13 million to bring back full Amtrak service across the state. This funding restores the Missouri River Runner service to two trains per day as it connects Kansas City to St. Louis with stops at eight cities in between. In addition, the state is investing $30 million to support the network of vital river ports — plus an additional $37 million for planning and construction — in recognition that Missouri’s ports are a key strategic advantage as supply chains continue to shift.

Similarly, the state is investing in new global connections with $5 million to attract international flights to Kansas City International Airport.

The state is also investing in enhancing the state’s broadband infrastructure. The budget dedicates $250 million to enhance efforts to ensure Missourians have access to high-speed internet and can participate in the online economy.

Preparing the workforce

In addition to addressing the childcare crisis, lawmakers also made a series of targeted investments in efforts to maximize the potential of the state’s talent pool.

A new $5 million tech training effort would help grow the state’s geospatial workforce as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency builds its headquarters in St. Louis. The budget also appropriates $7 million to help train more nurses as the state faces a growing health care talent shortage. Also included is $750,000 to support LaunchCode, which helps retrain Missourians with coding skills that are in high demand.

These new targeted efforts come on top of the state’s continued strong support for public education, with a $21 million plan to help recruit and retain quality K-12 educators.

The budget also secures funding for the innovative Fast Track program. Championed by the Missouri Chamber and passed into law in 2019, Fast Track addresses workforce needs by encouraging adults to pursue a certificate, degree, or industry-recognized credential in a job field designated as high need. Fast Track fully covers tuition and fees when combined with other federal and state financial aid.

The state is dedicating $4.7 million for the program in the new budget. However, the program still needs additional legislation to remain in operation as it is set to expire this year. Lawmakers are currently considering bills that would extend the program and expand the benefits so they will now be available to Missourians pursuing apprenticeships.

Let Business Decide

Lawmakers also wisely rejected efforts to use state budget bills as a vehicle to pass anti-business language that would override employer vaccine policies. The Missouri Chamber continues to strongly oppose efforts to restrict the freedom of employers to set their own vaccine policies. Our position is simple — let business decide.

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