Pending governor’s approval, Missouri’s budget includes $8 million for Springfield’s historic Jefferson Avenue Footbridge

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 7:23 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2023 at 10:19 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The FY 2024 state budget has finally made it through the Missouri legislature and now awaits final approval by Governor Mike Parson.

“We received around $86.6 million for Springfield projects provided that the governor signs the budget that we sent him,” said Missouri State Representative Crystal Quade, the House Minority Leader from Springfield. “We’re very excited about what we’ve been able to do.”

Missouri lawmakers approved a record $51 billion budget for the 2024 fiscal year, which is more than a billion dollars more than Governor Parson proposed, and he still has the right to line-item veto parts of the legislature’s approvals.

That’s what he did last year with funding for Springfield’s Jefferson Avenue Footbridge on Commercial Street, closed since 2016 after structural problems were discovered in the historic landmark built in 1902. But after the governor vetoed $5 million for repairs last year, the legislature has put $8 million back in this year’s budget, and State Rep. Quade believes it can survive.

“That is a huge tourist attraction, and tourism dollars have a high return on investment,” Quade said of the 562-ft. steel multi-arched cantilever bridge that was the first of its kind in Missouri. “When people come to Commercial Street, they shop at our stores, they stay at our Airbnbs, and they eat at our restaurants. That’s a huge thing for the north side and downtown, and I just really believe the governor recognizes the return on investment that it will have.”

The Commercial Club of Springfield, a civic organization for the Commercial Street Historic District, released this written statement:

“We have learned not to count our chickens before they hatch, but that will never stop us from crossing our fingers and praying for the funding we need for our Jefferson Avenue Footbridge and The Eiffel Tower of Springfield. We so appreciate the advocacy of city council and staff and of our state representatives and senators that have gotten us to this point.”

Mary Collette, President of the Commercial Club of Springfield

Other Springfield-related projects in the tentative state budget include $2.5 million for a bridge at Fellows Lake, $4.7 million for fast-track programs at OTC and Missouri State, $4 million for the Jordan Valley Community Health Center, and $5 million for a new youth mental health facility.

“Jordan Valley is the largest federally-qualified health center, and it provides so many services for so many who need it,” State Rep. Quade said. “Teen suicide rates have gone up exponentially throughout the country and in Missouri.”

Burrell Behavioral Health is involved in the youth center and also released a statement:

“We are grateful to the Missouri legislature for allocating $5 million in next year’s budget toward a Youth Behavioral Crisis Center (YBCC) in Greene County. These funds, once the budget is signed by Gov. Parson, will help fund a second supplemental phase of this facility, which is intended to help address a statewide shortage of residential beds for youth with behavioral health needs. We look forward to helping meet this need as part of our full-continuum campus.

The first phase of the YBCC, a 24/7 rapid-access crisis unit for youth 12-17, is scheduled to break ground within the next few months. This initial phase is funded by a $5.325 million ARPA grant awarded by the Greene County Commission in 2022.

There is a great need for these services for youth in our area, and we are incredibly appreciative to the Greene County Commission, our region’s senators and representatives, and all officials who have entrusted us with this project and helped make it happen. We look forward to sharing more details about the Youth Behavioral Crisis Center in the coming months.”

Clay Goddard, Brightli Southwest Region President (Brightli is Burrell’s parent company)

This is the final week of the legislative session, and it has been less than productive so far.

“When we started this week, we had five bills (not counting budget-related items) that had been passed with just five days left,” Quade said. “One could argue that it’s a good thing because we’re not growing government. But considering we’re facing a lot of issues as a state, it is frustrating. So many families and businesses in our area are talking about trying to find good quality jobs, job training systems, and child care. There are still a lot of bills hanging out there that we hope to get across the finish line, including child care and tax credits that are also priorities for the governor. But there’s a lot of infighting going on, and I know people get tired of hearing about it.”

State Rep. Quade did point out that recent bills passed include one that continues to provide Medicaid coverage for new moms for up to a year and one that eliminates the sales tax on Social Security and provide a property tax credit for senior citizens.

“That Social Security bill had great bi-partisan support with, I think, just a single ‘No’ vote in the entire House,” Quade said. “I was proud of that because too often in this building, the conversations about tax cuts are around corporations and big businesses receiving tax breaks that take money away from our budget for everyday Missourians. This was a tax cut for folks who actually need it, seniors who are often on fixed incomes.”

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