Missouri Gov. Mike Parson pledged Friday to work with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and Kansas City Mayor Sly James to boost workforce development and infrastructure.
“These cities are critical to the state of Missouri,” Parson told the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Friday, one of nine stops he made on a tour of the city Friday. “What you do here matters. We’re not going to agree on some things, but I will tell you this. If we will be open-minded with one another, there will be many, many things that we will agree on that will be the best thing in the world for the state of Missouri.”
Parson also said he hopes to get the state’s low-income housing tax credit program operating again.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens blocked funding for the program in 2017, calling it a get-rich scheme for special interests. Parson opposed cutting the tax credits when he was lieutenant governor, but agrees the program need to be reformed.
“I believe the legislative body understands that, and I think that can be done, so I look for those, with the legislative action this year, to get it through the process where we can sign it and move forward on those tax credits,” he said.
Parson’s tour of St. Louis included a stop at the Nathaniel Rivers Place Apartments, in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood, which were built with low-income housing tax credits and will provide housing for individuals who are chronically homeless.
The St. Louis tour is the second the mayors and the governor have taken this year. They were in Kansas City last month, and will travel to rural Missouri later in the year. The tours have been meant to emphasize the similarities in what various regions of the state need from the governor and the legislature.
Krewson said she would like to see additional funding for St. Louis’ job training agency, transportation and public safety. James wants more money for pre-kindergarten programs.
“If we’re not getting our kids at the earliest opportunity, and training their brains to be kindergarten-ready so they can read proficiently in the third grade, and so they can graduate high school at a high rate and go to college at a high rate and make more money over their lifetime, we’re failing,” he said.
But what’s most important, James said, is someone to be a partner in Jefferson City, “and for the legislature not to believe that every time we want to do something, that that’s an invitation for them to pre-empt us.”
For example, both St. Louis and Kansas City moved in 2015 to boost the minimum wage above the level set by the state. Two years later, the General Assembly forced them to reverse the increase.
Both Krewson and James, along with their police chiefs, have asked the General Assembly to stop loosening gun restrictions in the state. Parson said he discussed the issue with the mayors, but said he wasn’t sure what legislation tweaking the state’s gun laws would look like.
“I can tell you this much, I’m going to do everything as governor, through the Department of Public Safety and the tools we have, to help the mayors bring the crime rate down in the state of Missouri,” he said.
In addition to City Hall and the Nathaniel Rivers apartments, the mayors and Parson visited:
- A proposed machine shop and workspace for small manufacturers in the Central West End
- The downtown small business workspace T-Rex
- A program targeting at-risk high-schoolers at Roosevelt High School in the Tower Grove East neighborhood
- Rooster Cafe, also in the Tower Grove East neighborhood, where the trio ate lunch
- Ranken Technical College in the Lewis Place neighborhood
- A look at a block in the Mark Twain neighborhood where most of the buildings are vacant
- The city’s Real-Time Crime Center at police headquarters.
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