By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
State Sen. Dan Hegeman of Cosby completed his last legislative session this year and put his stamp on his last state budget.
Hegeman, a Republican, served in the powerful Senate Appropriations chair position in which he helped guide budget negotiations that led to passage of the record $48 billion state budget.
Hegeman is pleased the legislature agreed with Gov. Mike Parson in allocating $100 million to extend broadband. Hegeman says the lack of broadband became evident during the COVID-19 shutdown, especially in rural Missouri.
“As people tried to work from home and then found that they didn’t have the capacity to be able to do that,” Hegeman tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post in an in-studio interview. “That is today’s electricity, it’s today’s telephone service. Broadband being across the state, ubiquitous, is important to the state and something that we need to push forward on.”
Hegeman says he’s pleased the legislature used the $3 billion given Missouri by Congress as coronavirus relief and stimulus on long-term capital projects. Congress allocated money through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Hegeman is proud lawmakers agreed to use the one-time money on what he calls one-time projects, such as the “transformational” projects on college campuses throughout the state.
“These are efforts that we hope that years down the road will make a real impact on our society,” Hegeman explains. “A lot of it is workforce development through higher education, moving our citizens in a way and providing resources so that they can improve their job skills to be able to work in today’s society.”
Missouri Western State University is partnering with North Central Missouri College in Trenton to build a $10 million Convergence Technology Alliance Center on the St. Joseph campus. The project received $5 million dollars from the legislature this past session.
Hegeman has praised fellow Republican and former state senator, Gov. Mike Parson, for how he handled the coronavirus pandemic, stating the governor kept the state from plunging into recession.
And while Hegeman agrees with the governor often, he disagrees on one aspect of the budget.
Parson has criticized the appropriation which would provide a $500 tax rebate to each individual taxpayer and $1,000 for couples, stating the legislature should have cut taxes instead.
Hegeman sees nothing wrong with tax rebate.
“I may have chosen a different path to do that, but giving money back to the citizens of the state of Missouri, the taxpayers in the state of Missouri, is never a bad idea.”
Hegeman says the legislature can consider a tax cut next year.
Hegeman is serving his final year in the legislature. He leaves at the end of the year due to term limits.
This is the first of two parts taken from our in-studio interview of Sen. Hegeman. We will have the second part tomorrow.