Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday addressed 192 guests at the Westphalia Lions Hall during the Osage County Lincoln Day Banquet about his political agenda over the last two years since becoming 57th …
Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday addressed 192 guests at the Westphalia Lions Hall during the Osage County Lincoln Day Banquet about his political agenda over the last two years since becoming 57th governor of the state of Missouri.
Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson arrived at the facility around 6:10 p.m. and quietly visited with banquet attendees before going to dinner. Parson spoke after dinner on the importance of local elections, having conservatives in office, workforce development, economic and infrastructure among other political views.
“Most of you know my history — I served in the military and served as the sheriff back home, and I still think these local elections are the most important elections you could go through,” Parson said at the beginning of his speech. “Those are the people who know us the best. The people you go to church with, you go to the grocery store and your kids grow up with.”
Parson told banquet attendees that local elections are the most important because change starts at the local level.
“I had the opportunity to be around the President and the First Lady, and I am going to tell you, he may be from the East Coast and a little different than most people in this room, but I guarantee ya, there is nobody that believes more in the American Dream than what President Donald Trump does, and he is willing to fight for it every day,” Parson said.
He mentioned the president’s tax cuts and Missouri’s tax cuts to go with it.
“The state did their first tax cut to go along with the federal tax cut, it hadn’t been done in 100 years under Republican leadership,” Parson said. “With those two tax cuts combined in the state of Missouri, that made an average of about $1,500 to $3,500 in the people’s pockets. The things we are talking about are the people keeping their own money and spending their own money, and when you do that things start happening — economies start picking up and people go back to work.”
Parson spoke of workforce development and additional jobs created within the state.
“Since I have taken over the governor’s office, we have added over 40,000 new jobs in the state of Missouri,” Parson said. “We are currently trying to figure out how we can build up for the workforce of tomorrow. How do we make sure our kids in school really understand what the jobs are?”
He added that not everyone needs to go get a four-year degree.
“Seventy percent of people in Missouri don’t have a four-year degree,” he said. “Those 70 percent are your workforce.”
While the state is still going to need engineers, doctors and teachers, Parson said the reality of it is, high school kids need to know that a trade school is okay, that a skill set is okay, and that a specialty in health care and IT (information technology) is okay.
“That is why we are going to invest money in our high school students this year — as a matter of fact, 12,000 of them, through Work Ready Certificates so when they get out of high school, somebody’s going to be out there to say, ‘You have these qualifications and I need these qualifications, come to work for me,’” Parson said. “Those things are important.”
Parson said during the budget time last year that he would reform the state of Missouri, which resulted in closing an entire prison.
“What do you do to rehabilitate these people, keep them on the streets so the sheriff isn’t out there having to deal with them all the time — they are being productive?” Parson asked. “We did that by combining all those efforts and by being more efficient where people went, we were able to shut down an entire prison.”
By closing the one facility, the state saved $22 million a year in taxpayer funds, according to the governor.
“We had 800 people working in economic development in the state of (Missouri),” Parson said. “If you compare it to the states around us that we compare ourselves to, the first thing you have to admit is when you do something right, wrong, or when you think you do something right and it’s not. We were almost dead last out of 15 states and had almost 800 people in economic development. The next state to us with the largest economic development? They had 200 employees there.”
Parson said as of today, the Missouri legislature has used a common-sense approach to bring the state up to second place in business importation in the United States. New businesses, including Nucor Steel in Sedalia, brought 250 new positions; Briggs & Stratton’s move to Poplar Bluff brought 120 new jobs; Bayer moved from the East Coast to Missouri and added 500 employees; and Bunge, the largest ag company, moved its world headquarters to the St. Louis region.
“Those are the kind of things that make a difference for the future of our state,” Parson said. “Those are investments folks are making in our state which means our kids and grandkids are going to have the opportunity.”
Parson touched on the state’s budget and trying to leave more funds on the “bottom line.”
“I said to those who work for me while we were making the budget, we are going to live like everyday people and we are not going to spend all the money. Cause you know what? We might have some floods that we are going to have deal with. And lo and behold, we did have some floods, didn’t we? We left $100 million dollars on the bottom line because we could, and we didn’t have to spend it, and if we did need it, we wouldn’t have to go back to borrow money to get money,” Parson said.
He added that the state invested $3 million in bonds into rural Missouri last year in roads and bridges.
“I got criticized from people saying I was a rural guy and spending money in rural Missouri,” Parson said. “That really wasn’t the point at all. The point was we needed it in rural Missouri, and the money we used for the bridges in rural Missouri freed up money to spend in urban areas.”
He said those are things people need to concentrate on, not what some news sources would try to say about his policies in government, such as one article on the Second Amendment.
“Do not believe what the (St. Louis) Post-Dispatch says,” Parson said. “You can believe what these local reporters do — they will get it right.”
The governor said he is a lifetime member of the NRA and has never wavered on the Second Amendment, from serving in the United States Army, as a sheriff, and politician, to becoming governor of the state of Missouri.
“Me and Kenny Jones introduced a piece of legislation called the Castle Doctrine,” Parson said. “It basically says if someone breaks into your home, threatens your family or your property, you have a right to protect it.”
Parson mentioned his six grandchildren, including the youngest recently adopted by his son, five-month-old Sophie, and what he feels it means to be pro-life.
“In 2004, when Republicans and conservatives started taking the majority in Jeff City, there were 8,000 abortions a year in the state of Missouri,” Parson said. “As of last year, with the work we have done, that 8,000 number is down to less than 1,400 in the state of Missouri.”
He said that the number is going to get better.
“There is children today driving around in a car, going to high school, playing in sports that are living a life because of all of you in this room, because you stayed focused on that issue,” Parson said. “That is the real outcome of what it means to be pro-life. This year as I stand before you there has only been seven abortions in the state of Missouri for this year.”
Parson said there is no secret to being a good politician, even though a lot of people think they are good and make good speeches, but for him, what you see is what you get.
“There is three fundamentals I firmly believe in if you are going to be a leader: a Christian faith, moral values and a love of state and country,” he said. “If you have those things, life can be very simple. But so many times we make it complicated in Jefferson City. If you have those fundamental beliefs you are going to be okay.”
He closed with a word about where he was raised in Hickory County on his family’s farm.
“We had everything we needed on 112 acres; mom and dad was married 63 years — good Christian people — and raised us four boys up the best they could with what they had,” Parson said. “To be the governor of the state of Missouri and come from that background — I guarantee ya, back home when they wrote in my yearbook, nobody said ‘will be the next governor of the state of Missouri.’ It was more ‘are you gonna graduate?’”
Parson said he will never forget the roots where he came from. He added that even his roots didn’t give him a true understanding of being patriotic until he served in the United States Army.
“You are living the American Dream today,” he added. “People protected it and gave it to us, and we have to do that for the next generation.”
Parson asked the group how they liked the “New Green Deal” in Osage County.
“Com’on, give me a break,” he said over the negative murmur. “It’ll only cost you about $60,000 apiece per year for 10 years,” Parson said. “But I am an ol’ farm boy at heart, and (my old) cows — they make ‘New Green Deals’ every day. We are just smart enough not to step in it in Missouri! It is an honor and a privilege to be governor of the state of Missouri. God bless you, God bless Missouri, and God bless the United States of America!”