Audio: Missouri governor’s final State of State touts abortion ban, infrastructure spending

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivering his State of the State Address (Photo by Tim Bommell - Missouri House Communications)
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(Missouri Independent/Missourinet) – In his final address to a joint session of the Missouri General Assembly, Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday pointed to outlawing abortion, increasing infrastructure spending, and appointing five statewide officeholders as the legacy of his six years in office.

“I’ll be leaving here with my head held high,” Parson told lawmakers during his annual State of the State address.

Parson can’t seek re-election because of term limits. After years in the legislature and 18 months as lieutenant governor, he was elevated to the state’s highest office in 2018 after then-Gov. Eric Greitens was forced to resign in disgrace.

He was elected to a full four-year term in 2020.

(This is the full State of the State speech. Audio by Missourinet)


When he took over, Parson said Missourians were “tired of the turmoil, political infighting, and self-involved personalities. They were tired of quitters.

“We declared a fresh start and the return of stability,” he said. “We committed to ensuring the next generations have their opportunity at the American Dream. We promised the return of integrity. Above all, we promised to return a people-first mentality to state government, and that’s our final commitment to Missourians. Until our final day, we’ll continue putting people first.”

Twice during his speech, he noted that abortion is illegal in Missouri, thanks to a bill he signed in 2019 that included a trigger that outlawed the procedure if the U.S. Supreme Court ever struck down Roe v. Wade.

That Supreme Court ruling eventually came in 2022. Abortion-rights advocates have now launched an initiative petition campaign seeking to overturn the ban.

“We fought the fight for life,” Parson said in his speech.

Infrastructure spending has been the main thrust of Parson’s agenda during his time in office. He told lawmakers on Wednesday that over the last six years, Missouri has rebuilt more than 1,000 bridges and repaired 50% of its entire highway system.

But the infrastructure project that could be his biggest legacy is Interstate 70.

Parson had hoped to rebuild portions of the interstate as part of his budget proposal last year. Legislative leaders decided the governor’s plan didn’t go far enough, boosting funding to $1.4 billion in general revenue and $1.4 billion in borrowed funds to widen the interstate across the state.

“The expansion of I-70 has been talked about in this building for decades. Decades of hot air. Decades of passing the buck,” he said. “Under our administration, this General Assembly, and the leadership of (Senate Appropriations Chairman Lincoln) Hough, decades of inaction turned to action. This summer, construction on I-70 is set to begin in Columbia.”

Parson also noted that he’s filled vacancies in three statewide offices, appointing Vivek Malek as treasurer, Mike Kehoe as lieutenant governor, and Andrew Bailey as attorney general. He previously appointed Eric Schmitt attorney general and Scott Fitzpatrick as treasurer.

And he said his administration has “reshaped our Supreme Court and judiciary as a whole. We’ve protected Second Amendment rights, focused on law and order, and safeguarded Missouri’s landmark castle doctrine.”

Missouri has maintained its AAA bond rating, enacted three tax cuts, and “paid down Missouri’s debt by over $600 million,” Parson said.

He also bragged that the clemency backlog he inherited “has been totally cleared for the first time in decades.”

“In less than six years,” he said, “we’ve accomplished more than most governors are able to in eight years.”

Delivering the Democrats’ response to Parson’s speech, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade of Springfield was asked about the governor’s legacy.

“The legacy of Gov. Parson is riddled with a lot of unfortunate events,” she said. “He talked about a lot of really great things that he accomplished, but we didn’t talk about the (Department of Revenue) director who had to get fired for fumbling the tax tables and charging Missourians too much in their taxes. We didn’t talk about a Department of Health director who tracked women’s periods.”

She added: “There are a lot of things that we could talk about that have not been great within this administration.


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Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.