Legislative column

Earlier this week, a national news organization released the rankings of the state governments for all 50 states. The states were ranked from 1 to 50 in seven categories — health care, education, infrastructure, crime, opportunity, economy and government.

Missouri ranked 37 overall; 14th best government in the country; 35th in health care and 36th economy. I was shocked to see how Missouri ranks in vital categories. Those rankings may come as a surprise but they also let us know exactly what areas need improvement.

The ranking of 36 for infrastructure sends a clear message that the state’s roads and bridges are not of the same quality of other states. In fact, the quality of our state’s bridges was ranked at 40, one of the lowest in the nation. Since 1996, we have been trying to fund our state’s roadway system with a 17-cent-per-gallon tax on fuel. This is one of the lowest in the nation. It is disheartening to see the ranking so low in terms of infrastructure. There are several pieces of legislation filed this year designed to fix the budget shortfalls within the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Missouri’s Higher Education ranking was 23 overall. Our quality of Pre-K education was ranked among the best in the nation at an eight, and our high school graduation rate was at a 10. Educating Missourians is and always has been a priority of the General Assembly. The ranking proves the hard work and dedication of so many truly is helping our students do better, reach their goals and aim higher. I am also proud to learn that we are ranked as 17th for college graduates having low debt upon graduation.

This is the first year such rankings have been issued and released. Click on the link www.usnews.com/news/best-states to see Missouri’s rankings in all of the categories.

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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