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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson plans for 2023: expanding highways and child care access

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Luke X. Martin
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KCUR 89.3
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson appeared on KCUR's Up to Date on Monday to discuss his priorities for the state, which include early childhood education and expanding I-70.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says improvements to Interstate 70 and expanded access to child care for working families are his top priorities this year.

The Republican governor announced during his State of the State address last week that he wants to put some of Missouri’s multi-billion-dollar budget surplus toward expanding the highway throughout the state and broadening access to early childhood programs.

Speaking on KCUR’s Up To Date on Monday, Parson said parents who work night shifts especially need more child care options.

“We got to do a better job of getting people the daycare they need, for their families and everything, so we keep them in the workforce,” Parson said. “I don't want them to have to make the decision: ‘Do I go to work or do I have to stay home with my child?’ I want to have that service where they can go.”

Parson said the COVID-19 pandemic led daycares to close or downsize, and the number of child care slots in the state has not recovered. He said it’s important to involve the private sector.

“We want to try to help them to be able to do that, where they can offer in different communities, whether you live in a town of 10,000, or whether you live in Kansas City, or small towns,” he said.

Parson’s focus on education and child care received support from across the aisle. He said government should not be so hyper-partisan.

“There's the political hot button issues that we all go through, but transportation's not one of those,” Parson said. “Getting a child in education's not one of those. Providing daycare is not a political issue.”

Parson said expansion of I-70 needs to begin in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia. Parson pushed back against the criticism that more highway lanes does not decrease traffic.

“I'm glad there's more traffic. That means your state's doing well, businesses are doing well, people are coming here, and we'll be having an opportunity to make more safety improvements around this state,” Parson said. “Having more lanes, I think you make it safer. I think it's much more convenient for people.”

Parson also wants to spend about $50 million on school safety grants. He said the money could be used to ensure buildings are secure if a shooting does take place.

“You gotta analyze every window, every door where you think those entry points might be, and always expect the unexpected,” he said.

  • Governor Mike Parson, Republican governor of Missouri 
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As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
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