Legislative column

I’ve always been proud to be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and my work helping to craft the state budget. It might not sound like a ton of fun, but I take a great deal of pride in working hard to make ends meet for the citizens of Missouri in spite of limited resources.

Each year we are presented a budget by the governor and we have to decide what to keep and what to trim. This year the governor has recommended more than $2 billion for mental health funding. It is imperative we provide adequate funding in the budget for mental health services to ensure Missourians are able to have access to the needed treatments and professionals who can best meet their needs. This funding leaves me hopeful there will be more resources available to help those who truly need it. The governor has also released additional $11 million for K-12 school transportation. While, this doesn’t fill the funding gap, it is a step in the right direction. The governor is doing a good job of listening to the need of school children across the state and is putting money where there is the biggest need.

We have also learned the state will be receiving $52 million in tobacco settlement fees, and the governor would like to restore $41 million to in-home and community based services which I discussed with you last week. That’s still a bit shy of where we were, but much closer to keeping most of those vital services in place for the seniors that so desperately need them. As I’ve promised before, I will carefully study each budget item that is before me to make sure we are making the best use of the funds we have. It’s a huge responsibility to be in this position, and I do not take the responsibility lightly.

I’m also proud to announce that Carol Silvey of West Plains, has been appointed to the Missouri State University Board of Governors. Carol began her career at the former Southwest Missouri State University-West Plains, now MSU-WP, in the history department. In 1994, she became the first full-time director of development and grew the campus endowment to more than $1 million. She created the development board and the Missouri State-West Plains Advisory Board. The 33rd Senatorial District is very fortunate in that we have extremely qualified constituents who have been chosen to represent us on numerous boards and state positions. Please help me congratulate Carol on this prestigious appointment.

Mike Cunningham is a Republican member of the Missouri State Senate, representing District 33. Contact him at 573-751-1882 or www.senate.mo.gov/cunningham

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