Governor Parson Continues Focus on Top Priority – Workforce Development, Encourages Legislature to Pass Fast Track

MARCH 8, 2019

 — – Governor Mike Parson encouraged legislators to pass Fast Track, a top priority in the Governor’s agenda to move Missouri forward. The Governor traveled to businesses and training facilities with Senator Gary Romine and Representative Kathy Swan to highlight Fast Track, the Governor’s priority that would help reskill Missouri workers to meet workforce demand.

“No matter what corner of the state we visit, individuals and businesses share the same concerns about the future of our workforce,” Governor Mike Parson said. “Businesses cannot find the workers that they need to help their businesses grow. At the same time, we have folks who need good paying jobs, but they don’t have the right skills. This legislation helps solve both problems, and I applaud Speaker Haahr, Representative Swan, and Senator Romine for their leadership on this issue.”

If passed, the Fast Track financial aid program would target adults working toward degree programs that would fill a high-need skills gap. The proposed program would provide tuition assistance in high-demand fields for Missourians who meet the eligibility criteria.

“We’re committed to working with our counterparts in the Senate to pass this legislation,” Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr said. “This is a great example of a bold solution that will put Missouri out in front of other states who are dealing with this challenge. The more competitive we are, the better our chances for creating more jobs and greater opportunities for our citizens.”

The legislation passed (101-49) in the House on February 28 and awaits action by the Senate.

“The Governor’s priority directly addresses one of the top challenges facing businesses in today’s economy,” Senator Gary Romine said. “Fast Track will benefit thousands of Missourians and does so in a way that will spur future growth and opportunity for the citizens of our state.”

“I look forward to working with the Senate to get this bill to the Governor’s desk,” Representative Kathy Swan said. “Fast Track makes higher education more accessible to Missourians and will help us to fill high-demand jobs.”

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 data puts the median household income for Missouri at $51,713. Additionally, 755,000 Missourians have some college experience but no degree. Fast Track will allow thousands of these Missourians the opportunity to pursue higher education opportunities in high-paying, high-demand fields like advanced manufacturing, computer science, and healthcare, which will achieve greater economic success for their families.

“This program addresses critical gaps in our workforce,” Commissioner of Higher Education Zora Mulligan said. “We have programs that help high school graduates, but what we lack is a way to encourage and assist adult learners in need of new skills. As the nature of work changes, these individuals are often the most vulnerable. That’s why this legislation is so important.”

“Over the last year, we’ve looked a lot at our economy, we’ve traveled around the state, hearing from businesses in every corner of our state,” Director of Economic Development Rob Dixon said. “We heard loud and clear the need for a program just like this one. Our businesses, our citizens know the challenges, and they deserve solutions. This legislation delivers solutions.” 

Three Schools in Missouri Will Each Be Gifted A $100,000 DON’T QUIT!® Fitness Center from the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils

FEBRUARY 11, 2019

 — – Continuing his goal of ending childhood obesity, fitness icon Jake Steinfeld, Chairman of the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC), has kicked off 2019 by selecting the State of Missouri for its 2019 DON’T QUIT! Campaign.  The NFGFC will deliver a state-of-the-art DON’T QUIT! Fitness Center to three Missouri schools for demonstrating leadership in getting and keeping their students fit. School nominations will be accepted starting today and will run through Friday, March 22, 2019.  The nomination process is simple.  All you need to do is fill out a short application and include a written essay or short video.  Download your state application at  It’s easy, nominate your school today!

“Childhood obesity is a serious problem that can follow a child into adulthood. I’ve declared war on this preventable disease, and it’s inspiring to see elected leaders like Governor Mike Parson immediately jump on board to join the battle and welcome us into their state. Every governor we’ve partnered with recognizes that obesity is neither a democrat nor republican issue; it’s a kids’ issue and all have vowed to do everything possible to help,” said Jake Steinfeld.  “So far we’ve delivered DON’T QUIT! Fitness Centers to 28 states and Washington, DC and the response from students, teachers, and communities has been unbelievable.  Kids are excited about working out and being physically active and, as a result, their academic performance and self-esteem have skyrocketed.  Now, Missouri schools have an opportunity to make a change that will have a lasting impact on kids well into their future.”

“I’m thankful that Jake Steinfeld and the National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils have partnered with Missouri to help improve the health and well-being of children in our state,” said Governor Mike Parson. “Teaching young people the value of setting goals while also building confidence can be invaluable in so many other ways through the course of their lives. This program has been a success all over the country, and we are grateful for this generous opportunity. I encourage every elementary and middle school in the state to apply for this gift.”

The NFGFC program will make its way into all 50 states in the coming years. Each fitness center is financed through public/private partnerships with companies like The Coca-Cola Company, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Wheels Up and Nike, and does not rely on taxpayer dollars or state funding.  TuffStuff Fitness International provides all the fitness equipment, which is manufactured right here in the United States.  The foundation’s goal is to build a nation of the fittest, healthiest kids in the world.

“I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact fitness centers have had on students and their communities. When you provide schools with the tools and inspiration, you’ll be amazed by the changes that take place,” continued Steinfeld.  “Children are our most precious resource and by providing them with a strong foundation in health and fitness, we can feel confident that they’ll excel beyond their wildest dreams.”

Physical activity and exercise are shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases, enhance individual health and quality of life, and reduce health care costs.  In schools, studies show that physical activity improves academic achievement, increases confidence and self-esteem, reduces discipline problems, cuts absenteeism, and fosters better interpersonal relationships.

For more information about the NFGFC or to download a nomination form, visit


About The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils
The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils (NFGFC) seeks to encourage and reward innovation in the field of youth fitness by awarding fitness centers to schools that use new and unique methods to promote student physical activity and wellness. The NFGFC envisions a fitness center in every school in the U.S., helping to build a nation that—through innovation and a “DON’T QUIT!” attitude—boasts the fittest kids in the world. Since 2012, the NFGFC has delivered fitness centers in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Georgia, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, California, New Mexico, Connecticut, Virginia, Illinois, Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Washington, Wisconsin, Arizona, Maryland, Louisiana, Oregon, Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.  In 2019, we will gift fitness centers to four more states including Rhode Island, Missouri, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Governor Parson Commends Legislature for Quick Action on Fast Track

FEBRUARY 7, 2019

 —  – After hearing public testimony last week, the House Workforce Development Committee unanimously voted earlier this week to pass House Bill 225, a bill creating Fast Track, a new financial aid program that will help provide training and put more Missourians to work.

“I am pleased to see the Legislature swiftly take up and hear one of our administration’s top workforce development priorities,” Governor Parson said. “Fast Track will benefit thousands of Missourians across this state, and I applaud Senator Romine and Representative Swan for their leadership in making sure our workforce is prepared for the demands of the future.”

A similar piece of legislation, Senate Bill 16, has been heard in the Senate Education Committee and is making its way through the legislative process.

Senator Gary Romine, the bill sponsor in the Senate, said, “Fast Track gives Missourians the necessary tools and training for employment opportunities at small businesses and companies across the state and ensures our employers are able to find qualified workers to meet their workforce needs.”

Representative Kathy Swan, the bill sponsor in the House, said, “Fast Track allows our higher education institutions to become more accessible to Missourians and ensures students have the opportunity to gather the necessary education and training to fill high demand jobs.”

The Fast Track financial aid program will target adults working toward degree programs that fill a high-need skills gap. The proposed program would provide tuition assistance in high-demand fields to Missourians who meet the eligibility criteria.

“This program will put Missouri among the leading states that are serious about serving adults,” Commissioner Zora Mulligan said. “It will open doors for an entire segment of the population to get training and participate meaningfully in the workforce.”

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 data puts the median household income for Missouri at $51,713. Additionally, 755,000 Missourians have some college experience but no degree. Fast Track will allow thousands of these Missourians the opportunity to pursue higher education opportunities in high-paying, high-demand fields like advanced manufacturing, computer science, and healthcare, which will achieve greater economic success for their families.

Several business and education leaders testified in support of both bills.

“Businesses in the Kansas City area are in need of skilled workers and Governor Parson’s Fast Track program is an excellent way to answer that need, as well as provide new paths to success for the women and men who will be trained through the program,” Joe Reardon President of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce said. “We appreciate and applaud Governor Parson’s commitment to workforce development.”

“There are very few uses of taxpayer money more likely to break the cycle of poverty or improve economic mobility than higher education,” Shawn Strong President of State Technical College of Missouri said. “Nearly half of State Tech students are able to utilize A+, what many would say is one of the most successful scholarship programs in the country. I believe the Fast Track program has the potential to mirror the success of A+.”

“We appreciate Governor Parson’s significant investment in workforce development through Fast Track,” Brian Millner President and CEO of the Missouri Community College Association said. “Expanding financial assistance for adult learners to receive training in high-demand jobs is an effective measure to enable more Missourians to obtain timely, flexible, and cost-effective skills for occupations that are constantly changing and evolving.”

“The Fast Track program is welcome news for educators and businesses, as well as for the 755,000 Missourians who have some college experience but no degree,” Angie Besendorfer Chancellor of Western Governors University Missouri said. “As the demand for an educated workforce grows and the number of available jobs in high-skilled areas rise, it’s vital we do everything possible to increase the number of college-educated Missourians. WGU Missouri is pleased to play a role in reaching this goal, and funds from this grant program can only help in bettering the lives of even more adults across the state.”

“With the expectation of a continued tight labor market, Missouri must extend efforts to equip all workers with the tools they need to reach full potential,” Dan Mehan President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce said. “The Fast Track legislation does that by providing funding that under-skilled adults can use for training to fill high-demand jobs. We applaud Governor Parson and lawmakers for making this legislation a priority.”


Bill summaries and legislative action for Fast Track can be found here:

House Bill 225

Senate Bill 16…

Missouri on Track to Become a Model Employer

FEBRUARY 1, 2019

 — Governor Parson announced today that Missouri is on track to become a Model Employer state for individuals living with disabilities and has been selected for a mentorship program through the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) to help achieve this goal. The Governor made the announcement during his visit to Paraquad, the leading disability services provider in the St. Louis region. 

Paraquad is a nonprofit organization who works to empower people with disabilities to increase their independence through choice and opportunity. In 2017, Paraquad provided services to 2,323 individuals, including assisting over 500 individuals in obtaining a job or receiving the necessary support to succeed at a job.

“Paraquad has a long history of serving Missourians living with disabilities, and I’m thankful for their assistance in helping Missouri become a Model Employer,” said Governor Parson.

Missouri is on track to become a Model Employer later in 2019. This classification is an emerging trend developed by the National Governors Association to help more people with disabilities obtain competitive, integrated employment. State governments can commit to hiring more people with disabilities, and thereby become a “model employer” for private businesses and non-profits. 

Missouri was recently selected as one of 11 states to participate in the Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program (EFSLMP). EFSLMP will support the development and implementation of Missouri as a Model Employer. This technical assistance program is run through the USDOL, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and is a cross-disability, cross-systems change initiative with a focus on developing a framework of aligning practices, policies, and structures, which promote increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

“Becoming a Model Employer is crucial to ensuring Missouri is doing everything possible to fully integrate Missourians living with disabilities into the workforce,” said Governor Parson. “I am pleased to hear that Missouri has been selected for this innovative program to make certain we are implementing all the best policies and practice to become a Model Employer.”

As part of the EFSLMP program, Missouri was chosen as a Vision Quest and Core state. As a Vision Quest state, Missouri will engage in a series of small working groups, consisting of three to four states per team, to focus on analyzing, developing and implementing policy recommendations related to implementation of Missouri as a Model Employer for individuals with disabilities. As a Core state, department representatives will work with national experts to build capacity to improve employment opportunities for individuals with significant disabilities. 

Missouri’s teams consist of representatives from the Governor’s Office, Paraquad, Office of Administration, Department of Mental Health - Divisions of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Department of Social Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Economic Development – Workforce Development, Governor’s Council on Disability, Missouri DD Council, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

ODEP chose the following 11 states: 

Vision Quest States: Missouri (State as a Model Employer). Additional states: Alabama (Mental Health and Employment); Colorado (Strategic Planning); District of Columbia (Mental Health and Employment); Kentucky (Strategic Planning); Louisiana (Mental Health and Employment); Michigan (Strategic Planning); Tennessee (Mental Health and Employment); and Utah (State as a Model Employer).

Core States: Missouri (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation). Additional states: Arkansas (Capacity Building); Iowa (Capacity Building); Louisiana (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); Michigan (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); Tennessee (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation); and Utah (Capacity Building/Provider Transformation)

Missouri Wins $6.5 Million Early Childhood Education Grant

JANUARY 24, 2019

 — Missouri families with children age birth to 5 who participate in early learning programs in the state will benefit from a $6.5 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) received word of the award Thursday.

The grant will be used to fund the Stronger Together Missouri project, which aims to implement a comprehensive, statewide, birth-to-kindergarten-entry needs assessment and to update the state’s Early Childhood Strategic Plan to enhance long-term sustainability in early childhood services.

“We are proud and excited about the partnership among the Governor’s Office, the Missouri Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education, Health and Senior Services, Mental Health and Social Services, the Missouri Head Start State Collaboration Office, and the Missouri Foundation for Health that brought this grant to reality,” said Governor Mike Parson. “The grant will allow Missouri to offer even stronger services to our youngest students and their families.”

Information gathered from the needs assessment will be combined with information from the statewide Quality Assurance Report initiative to identify areas in need of intervention to maximize parental choice and knowledge of early learning programs, share best practices, and improve the quality of Early Childhood Care and Education system.

“Collaboration among state partners is key to effectively serving our students and families,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven. “Access to high quality early learning opportunities will help prepare every student for success in school and in life.”

Missouri will begin to implement the grant early this year. The grant is effective for one year.

Governor Parson Announces December 3-9 as Computer Science Education Week

NOVEMBER 28, 2018

 — Governor Parson signed a proclamation declaring December 3-9 as Computer Science Education Week. Next week throughout the nation, events will be centered on the importance of computer science education and giving students the skills to meet growing workforce demands. 

In Missouri, Computer Science Education events will continue the following week. Governor Parson will stop at various schools to tour their STEM programs, and he will attend the announcement of Department of Defense Education Activity Grants totaling $2.25 million to Knob Noster Public Schools.

Since the Governor took office, he has placed a focus on expanding computer science and STEM education. The General Assembly joined the Governor in crafting legislation that will further promote computer science education throughout K-12 schools as well as broadening the availability for students throughout Missouri. 

“Missouri legislators recently took a bold step to support K-12 computer science education by becoming the first state to pass legislation during a special session expanding course opportunities,” said Governor Parson. “As we continue to focus our efforts on increasing awareness in computer science education, our students will be better prepared and equipped with the skills to succeed and meet tomorrow’s workforce demands.”

As technology continues to evolve, the need for computer science jobs becomes more prevalent in our workforce. Having a basic understanding of coding is becoming a requirement for many positions as many professions rely on computer programming. Organizations, such as, understand the importance of programing and are creating tools and promoting an “Hour of Code” for students at an early age to begin learning this skill. 

“In 2017, Missouri had approximately 10,000 computer science jobs left unfilled. Recognizing Computer Science Education Week is a further step Missouri is taking to encourage and promote these fields and secure more of these jobs as we continue to improve our economy and provide Missouri students with the skills needed to secure high-paying jobs,” said Governor Parson.

The Governor will continue to build on the foundation passed during special session, laying the groundwork for providing students with access to qualified teachers, updated technology, and age-appropriate curriculum for every student to have the ability to succeed in the workforce demands of tomorrow.

In addition, Governor Parson joined The Governors’ Partnership for K-12 Computer Science.  This group, comprised of bi-partisan governors, is committed to increasing policies and funding so that students of all ages and backgrounds can receive the same educational training.

To review the proclamation, click the following link:

Governor Parson to Recognize Mizzou Nobel Prize Winner

NOVEMBER 9, 2018

 — Governor Mike Parson will recognize Dr. George Smith for his Nobel Prize in Chemistry during Saturday’s football game at Faurot Field. At halftime, Governor Parson will present Dr. Smith with a proclamation for his achievement in science and being honored with this prestigious award.

“Dr. Smith’s scientific breakthrough is a crowning achievement in the field of chemistry, and we are proud to have him right here in Missouri. This award highlights the incredible work that is being done at Mizzou, and is a great example of what our higher education can achieve,” said Governor Parson. “Dr. Smith’s devotion to science is a benefit to us all. All of Mizzou’s True Sons and Daughters should be proud of his achievement, not just for the University, but also for Missouri.”

In October, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Dr. Smith of the University of Missouri was one of three researchers to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was honored with the award for his breakthrough of evolving new proteins under his development of phage display. The new discovery has the potential to help fight off severe and threatening diseases.

Having retired in 2015, Dr. Smith is Mizzou’s Curators Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences. He first started at the University in 1975.

Mizzou will host Vanderbilt on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.

To view the proclamation, click here.

Governor Parson Signs STEM Education and Computer Science Bill

OCTOBER 30, 2018

 — On Tuesday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed into law House Bill 3 at Grand Center Arts Academy in St. Louis and at Poplar Bluff High School in Poplar Bluff.

Passed during a special legislative session called by the Governor in September, HB 3 deals with computer science, expanding course opportunities for high school students, creating a certification process for teachers, establishing a fund for any future public and private financial support, and developing curriculum standards.

“Improving our workforce is a top priority with this administration, and in order to help move Missouri forward, we need to expand opportunities for our students,” said Governor Parson. “Missouri currently has a high demand in this field, and by signing this bill, our students will be able to get the proper training to succeed in computing jobs. I want to thank Sen. Doug Libla, Rep. Travis Fitzwater, and the entire General Assembly for their dedication over the recent special session.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit and handled in the Senate by Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. The bill received broad public support by a number of business and education organizations from across the state.

"Today, many computer science jobs go unfilled because not enough high school students have been trained for the jobs,” said Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. “By improving computer science education in the state, we can better prepare our students for the many companies that desire and depend on these skills.”

“If we want to see long-term economic prosperity for our state, it’s critical that we develop a well-trained workforce that is ready and willing to fill jobs in the fastest growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” said Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit. “I want to thank the governor and my colleagues in the legislature for supporting this piece of legislation that will allow us to raise awareness of the STEM career paths and open the doors of opportunity for young people in all parts of our state.”

“As previously noted by Governor Parson, we live and work in a world in which technology is increasingly pervasive. We owe it to our students to provide opportunities to explore and learn about this burgeoning field through the application of an online delivery system. By promoting unfettered access to this vital curriculum, we ensure that all students have the tools requisite to their future personal success as well as safeguarding the economic stability of our community, the region, and the state,” said Dr. Scott Dill, Superintendent, Poplar Bluff School District. “We look forward to working with Governor Parson and Senator Libla as we continue to craft new learning opportunities for all students in Missouri.”

“We’d like to thank Gov. Mike Parson for signing this important legislation into law. Missouri employers are facing a substantial shortage of qualified STEM and computer science workers right now,” said Dan Mehan, President/CEO, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “By calling legislators back to Jefferson City for a special session and by signing this new law, Gov. Parson is making workforce a priority in our state. We greatly appreciate this effort to help equip more Missourians with valuable skills that today’s employers need.”

With the signing of House Bill 3, both bills have been completed that were sent to the Governor during special session last month.  Governor Parson signed House Bill 2, which expanded treatment courts, last week.

Governor Mike Parson Elected to Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

 — Governor Mike Parson was unanimously elected to join the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) earlier this month.  Governor Parson was proud of the opportunity to serve on the board with nine other governors throughout the country.  The term will run until January 2020.

“Teresa and I are passionate about giving Missouri students the opportunity to advance in their education and readily enter the workforce,” said Governor Parson. “We believe in the young people of Missouri and the positive impact that JAG has on our youth.  With the help of JAG, our students can succeed.  This is a great organization, and I look forward to doing my part to help it grow and reach more of our students.”

JAG is a state-based national organization in 34 states, which last year served more than 63,000 students in 1,500 communities. JAG is dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who have potential, but who are, for a variety of reasons, at risk for not graduating from high school.  Over one million students have participated since 1979.

In Missouri, there are currently 29 JAG schools throughout Missouri, serving 2,000 students in the 2018-2019 school year.  The graduation rate for JAG-Missouri students in recent years has been 95 percent or above.

For more information on the positive effects that JAG has on our youth, please check out First Lady Teresa’s editorial to The Kansas City Star

Governor Parson Applauds Mizzou Professor for Winning Nobel Prize

OCTOBER 4, 2018

 — On Wednesday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Dr. George Smith of the University of Missouri was one of three researchers to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Through Dr. Smith’s breakthrough of evolving new proteins under his development of phage display, this new discovery has the potential to help fight off severe or threatening diseases.

Governor Parson spoke with Dr. Smith yesterday afternoon by phone to congratulate him on the award. 

“Dr. Smith’s leading innovation and worthy accomplishment will be a boost for our higher education institutions, equipping them to train our workforce,” said Governor Parson. “We are incredibly proud of Dr. Smith and his devotion to science, as well as his efforts towards helping humanity. His efforts have led Missouri to be at the forefront of a scientific breakthrough that will help transform our society. This is a great time for the University of Missouri, and even better for all Missourians.”

Retiring in 2015, Dr. Smith is Mizzou’s Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences. He first started at the University in 1975.