Touting an “opportunity like we’ve never seen before in the state of Missouri,” Gov. Mike Parson has proposed transformational investments in the state’s workforce and public higher education.

Attending a workforce and higher-education roundtable discussion on Thursday, Feb. 10, in the North End Zone Facility, Parson pledged to “invest in the future of our state” through partnerships at the local level.

“The money has come to our state and its our job to invest it wisely,” he said. “The budget I’m proposing this year to the legislature … it’s not a one-year budget. It’s a foundation we will continue to build on.”

Parson’s budget includes:

  • A 5.4-percent increase for all public higher-education institutions, which would translate to an approximately $1.4 million increase for Missouri Southern.
  • $31 million in funding for MoExcels projects, which could potentially mean $767,732 in one-time funds that the university would match for a Center for Digital Media and Virtual Production. (Previous MoExcels grants helped fund the Environmental Health Department and the ACACIA Center.)
  • $475 million in capital investment in higher education, including a “transformational” project for each institution, while challenging each university to provide a 50-percent match from sources such as philanthropy, funds from community partners, etc.

The governor also spoke of his priority to fund scholarships for dual credit and A+ programs, and to increase pay for K-12 educators.

The proposed budget includes a $30 million project to create a Health Science Innovation Center at MSSU. The goal of the project is to create a “best in class” education and training facility to further cement Missouri Southern’s status as a leader and institution of choice in health-science education and research, and expand the university’s collaboration with key partners such as the Mercy and Freeman hospital systems.

The governor’s budget proposal is the first step in the legislative process, and could undergo changes at any point in both the House and Senate. A final budget and its outcome for Missouri Southern will not be known until early summer.

Dr. Dean Van Galen, president of MSSU, thanked the governor for his proposed investment in higher education and student success while looking to the future.

“There is such strength here in health science and health education, and Joplin serves as a hub (for these areas) in the Four-State region,” Van Galen said. “As a university that serves this region, we understand we must be a partner in the development of talent, the workforce and economic development.”