by Kids Win Missouri staff

 

Legislative session kicked off January 8 and one week later, Governor Parson delivered his annual State of the State address and budget priorities to the General Assembly. Listening with the ear of a child well-being advocate, there were many moments that stood out. These were some of our toplines and key takeaways for child well-being advocates:

 

Toplines

 

Strong focus on early childhood in Governor’s speech and budget.

We were happy to hear Governor Parson call out the success the state has had in building momentum over the last few years and winning a federal 3-year, $33.5 million Preschool Development Grant (PDG) grant. The Governor made clear in his State of the State that his administration will continue to focus on ways we can better serve our state’s youngest children and prepare them for future success. In line with this, the budget includes the PDG funding and an additional $5 million in new federal funding from the Child Care and Development Block Grant increases. We’ll continue our work to ensure these funds continue to support subsidies and quality initiatives in early childhood.

Call for increased funding for schools and teacher pay.

The Governor called for full funding of the foundation formula, and specifically called out our state’s need to improve teacher pay to support those who work with and teach our children every day. Parson’s budget showed his commitment to PK-12 education, with an increase of $10 million to the foundation formula, $2 million of which supports Pre-K programs.

“Workforce” continues to be the word of the moment.

Whether talking about early childhood or K-12 education or many initiatives across state departments, Governor Parson is laser-focused on workforce development and the economy. He specifically mentioned that investments in early childhood are investments in our future workforce in his State of the State address. As an advocate for children, this means considering how our issues intersect with workforce and where we can align our messaging to advance our policies as workforce policies. It also gives us a window of opportunity to lift up issues within the child well-being workforce, as we are doing with our work with the early care, education and home visiting spaces.

 

Key Takeaways

 

Continued messaging around improving Medicaid is needed.

Governor Parson came out with a strong stance against Medicaid Expansion and celebrated new accountability and efficiency with the enrollment and renewal system, noting major cost savings. As advocates, we need to continue to tell the stories of children and families who have unknowingly lost health insurance coverage from Medicaid, are struggling to get or keep their benefits due to issues with the system, and lift up those who are positively impacted by the program. We know there are common sense policy solutions to help us better ensure that eligible children and families get and stay enrolled in Medicaid and now is the time for us to address these issues.

Home visiting programs held flat.

Coming off of a year where we saw a significant increase in home visiting funding, both for Parents as Teachers and home visiting programs within Children’s Division’s budget, the Governor’s proposed budget calls for flat funding of these critical investments. We will continue to meet with appropriators to discuss the importance of expanding home visiting programs as they consider the FY 2021 budget.

There will be many tax and revenue issues for us to monitor in 2020.

The Governor specifically called out tax proposals, like Wayfair or streamlined sales tax, in his State of the State address. We also know many other tax proposals have been filed since December. These are issues that we have and will continue to monitor as we know the impact the state’s revenue has on children’s services. We’ll also continue to support policies, like a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which are proven to benefit working families.

 

Watch the Governor’s State of the State Address here.

Read the transcript here.

View the Governor’s Budget Requests for FY2021 here.

 

As always, we will be present in the Capitol this session building champions, tracking legislation, and supporting advocacy activities around child well-being issues. Stay up-to-date by signing up for our email updates and participating in our weekly legislative calls throughout session. Visit kidswinmissouri.org to sign up!

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