Gov. Mike Parson said he wants to pay county sheriffs back for managing county jails in a Friday morning speech to the County Commissioners Association of Missouri.
Earlier this week, sheriffs across the state called on lawmakers to pay the debt of nearly $35 million the state owes them.
“By all means, we should pay you what we owe,” Parson said, “I put $22 million in the governor's budget this year to make the first installment to pay you back and try to get caught up.”
Parson also emphasized the importance of investing in young people in rural areas by speaking about his own childhood in Wheatland, Missouri.
“This [is a] town of 356 people. Nobody in my hometown said I’d be the next governor of Missouri. It was more like, ‘I hope they sign your diploma for graduation.’”
He lower rates of unemployment across the state and an increase in participation in job training programs. “We have 42,000 Missourians in apprenticeship programs across the of Missouri preparing young men and women for work,” Parson said. “Right now we have over 40,000 new jobs in a little over 18 months.”
Parson also pointed to rural infrastructure as a major concern for rural investment. He said he has invested $62 million for rural broadband internet access in northern Missouri. He added that bonds in rural Missouri can help the state repair bridges and perform other maintenance, which can attract investment.
“You got to figure out new ways, you’ve got to find more ways to market your counties, and how you can attract people to come to your county if you want to expand those businesses,” he said. “We just need to stay focused on the things that are important to the everyday people.”