Missouri lawmakers focusing on taxes, health care and the economy

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Your tax dollars, healthcare, and the entire state economy are big topics this week in the Missouri Statehouse.

First, let's talk about the state's prevailing wage. Prevailing wage sets a minimum wage for crews on public construction projects. Opponents think it's too high, and drives up costs for those projects. So, they're proposing laws that would either exempt certain projects from prevailing wage, let the counties set that wage, or just repeal it altogether. Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake Saint Louis) says, "Now, more than ever is the time to reform how we pay for public construction so that the municipalities and schools and cities have the resources they need to do needed construction projects."

But, supporters say, the prevailing wage helps Missouri workers and contractors, who then help this state by spending those wages here. Sen. Gina Walsh (D-Bellefontaine Neighbors) says, "Missouri contractors first. That's how I've always been, and that's how it should be. They're citizens of the state. They pay taxes. The money they generate through the work they do, stays in the state. And that's how I want it to continue."

Meanwhile, something your lawmakers actually are agreeing on is a bill from Sen. Jay Wasson (R-Nixa). It reauthorizes Missouri Works and Missouri Training until 2030. Wasson says those programs make up about 90 percent of what the state does for economic development, "Those are pretty much almost the whole toolbox that we have for helping companies, and doing economic development, trying to help companies create jobs in the state of Missouri."

Also, lawmakers continue to hash out the state budget, as they hear more departments' pitches on how much money they need. The Appropriations Committee just heard from the Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Health and Senior Services. Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) says they make up well over 50% of the budget, "These departments have billion dollar line items in them."

This week, they start to wind down that process, and should have their budget proposal soon. So, you'll know how much of your tax dollars are going where.