GUEST COMMENTARY: Job creation key to fiscal growth in Missouri

Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | 3:36 p.m. CST

The 2011 legislative session presents the Missouri General Assembly with many challenges, requiring lawmakers to come together to forge solutions and work toward a common goal.

The first priority of both parties this year must be to preserve and create jobs to help restore our state’s economy. However, in our efforts to make Missouri more “business friendly,” we must avoid being anti-worker.

While it is often said businesses create jobs, it is really consumers who create jobs, because they are the ones who buy the goods and services that make it possible for businesses to exist. Policies that purport to help businesses by reducing wages ultimately hurt businesses, because it means hardworking Missourians have less money in their pockets to spend. The only way to end Missouri’s fiscal crisis is through job creation and economic growth.

Public investments in education have been — and will continue to be — invaluable in job creation.

Education is the foundation for success and economic growth in our state. We MUST take steps to make sure we do not decimate our education system and to ensure we have the educated workforce to fill the jobs we create. Investment in education is critical in attracting new businesses and the expansion and retention of existing businesses in Missouri. We must continue to guarantee higher education is both accessible and affordable, because it serves as a gateway to even greater opportunities.

With globalization, the job market has become even more competitive. Education through workforce development allows workers to both gain and retool their skills for the new economy. And it is not just for workers to succeed. If businesses are going to grow, especially those in emerging, cutting-edge industries, they need qualified workers with reoriented skills to do the job.

Tough budgetary decisions will be made this session. We need to approach the budget balancing process thoughtfully, responsibly and compassionately without resorting to cuts in important investments and services. It is imperative we do not carve deeper into core services that serve the most vulnerable in our state. We do need to find savings by identifying and implementing better and smarter ways to deliver these necessary services. The same economic forces that have created the decline in state revenues have created skyrocketing demands for these vital services.

We need to strike a responsible balance that protects essential safety net services and continues to invest in our children in order to allow us to recover stronger, healthier and more quickly. We will do our best to work together to find solutions for these challenging times facing Missourians. House Democrats will offer concrete and realistic ideas to put Missourians back to work and create new jobs in our state. We stand ready to move Missouri forward and we are ready to go to work.

Mike Talboy, D-Kansas City, is the state representative for the 37th District and serves as the House Minority Floor Leader.

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