By Marshall Griffin, KWMU
Jefferson City, MO – The incoming President Pro-tem of the Missouri Senate has released his priorities for the 2009 legislative session, which starts in January.
In a conference call today with reporters, Charlie Shields (R, St. Joseph) vowed not to raise taxes, and said his agenda would focus on balancing the budget, creating jobs and producing a better-educated work force.
"We need to figure out how to get more students through the system...we still have fallout when students enter the system but don't make it out the back end of higher education with a terminal degree," Shields said.
He also plans to continue outgoing Governor Matt Blunt's Quality Jobs program, where participating companies agree to pay half the cost of health care coverage for their workers.
"We know that not only does it add jobs, but jobs that pay a decent wage...we will look at tools that are also successful in other states, try to figure out what the right tools (are) to have in the tool box," Shields said.
Shields currently serves as House Majority Floor Leader. He'll succeed Michael Gibbons as President Pro-tem when the 2009 session begins next month.
KWMU contacted incoming Senate Minority Floor Leader Victor Callahan (D, Independence) for this story, but so far he has not responded.
House Democrats are focusing on expanding access to health care and restoring campaign contribution limits that were removed earlier this year.
Ron Richard (R, Joplin), the incoming House Speaker, has proposed a similar agenda to Shields. It differs in that it mentions raising the living standard of Missourians.