House Republicans held a press conference this morning to react to Gov. Jay Nixon's budget. The pay raise debate in the Missouri Senate made me a bit late, but I did manage to get a question in about Nixon's support of a revamped Preparing to Care Initiative.
In essence, the proposal provides college and universities with additional funds to train health care professionals. It was the brainchild of Gordon Lamb, who served as the interim president of the University of Missouri system.
While the plan had support among lawmakers of both parties in Boone County, funding for the program wasn't included in last year's budget. Budget chairmen from both General Assembly chambers - Allen Icet and Gary Nodler - and then-Speaker of the House Rod Jetton came out against the proposal.
I asked Icet today about the proposal's prospects this year. Here's what he said:
Nixon was in Columbia today promoting the initiative, which has been re-dubbed the "Caring for Missourians." Nixon set aside about $40 million in his budget for the proposal.
“At a time when 219,000 Missourians are unemployed, we are experiencing a shortage of health care professionals,” Nixon said in a press relese. “The most severe impact of this shortage falls on low-income Missourians, both in urban and rural areas. We need to coordinate the efforts of our four-year and two-year colleges and universities to address this shortage by producing more graduates who can move into these jobs. Caring for Missourians invests our resources in a way that will put Missourians to work in jobs helping their fellow Missourians.”