Emily Manley and Kayla Shepherd
12 hours ago
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As the Missouri Chamber of Commerce celebrates a major milestone, they also want stakeholders to know that crime and the lack of child care are affecting Missouri’s economy.
According to the chamber, more than 30 percent of Missouri parents have left work or missed an opportunity in the past year due to child care. At the same time, Missouri has the fourth highest gun death rate in the country. Missouri Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Meehan said it hurts the state’s business industry.
“If we can deal with this problem, with this challenge, we’re going to be a lot better than other states,” Meehan said during the 100th chamber meetingth anniversary celebration. “We had a company in downtown St. Louis across the street from Busch Stadium, let’s say a fourth-floor fire.” Let it be known, “we’re taking on a fire on the fourth floor.”
The Show-Me State is a top 10 state for multiple unwanted crime measures. Missouri also ranks sixth in violent crime per capita and ninth in property crime per capita. It’s a major concern for Missouri businesses, but it’s not just crime that affects the state’s economy.
“Child care isn’t just a problem for parents, it’s a problem for businesses,” said Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City.
Meehan said at Thursday’s event that businesses across the state are struggling to find workers.
“There are a lot of people who have to sacrifice work to make sure they take care of their children,” Mehan said. “We’re trying to put programs in place and get the state to step up and have incentives for employers and others to have child care programs.”
During his annual State of the State address in January, Gov. Mike Parson requested nearly $80 million in child care incentives. According to the chamber, the state’s economy lost more than $1.3 billion last year due to a lack of child care.
“The Chamber of Commerce is the heart and soul of small communities, large communities, and they’re really the ones that are the driving force behind the state of Missouri,” Parson said during the chamber’s celebration.
In a survey done last year by the chamber, a parent’s biggest need is to find someone to look after their child when he or she is a toddler or baby, but because it’s so hard to find, parents are quitting the job you are
Senate leadership said this type of investment is important to all Missourians.
“Child care, workforce development, infrastructure, these are not things that have Rs [Republicans] and Ds [Democrats] behind their name, they’re just things that matter to the vast majority of Missourians,” said Senate President Caleb Rhoden, R-Columbia.
The House already passed child care tax credits this session. This bill is now awaiting debate in the Senate. Last week, the upper house tried to approve its own version of incentives for daycare providers and employers, but after some disagreement on the floor, the bill was defeated, ending the debate.
Here are some of the legislative priorities for the House this session:
- Apply evidence-based and hotspot approaches to crime reduction
- increasing and protecting tools to assist the police
- Focus on substance abuse and mental health
- Reducing recidivism among those on probation or parole
- Improving the opportunities for training and employment of persons deprived of their liberty
- Increase in public safety personnel
- Increase the consistency and transparency of the prosecution
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce says it also supports the provision to allow a special prosecutor to come in and help cities and counties that have backlogs, such as in St. Louis, where the District Attorney’s Office says there are roughly 3,500 cases still pending. are not prosecuted.