Budget woes risk Parson’s ‘Fast Track’ jobs program

Gov. Mike Parson’s proposed $22 million Fast Track jobs training program has hit a wall in the Missouri House and the Senate, potentially endangering a piece of the governor’s core legislative agenda.

After three-plus hours of debate last week, the plan came to a halt in the Senate. House lawmakers took away $4 million from the program for other purposes.

The speed bumps are due to the state’s increasing budget constraints.

State revenue collections are down more than 5 percent, or $310 million, from last year. The state stands to lose another $320 in the next fiscal year when a 2014 tax cut take effect.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, played down the delays as part of the vetting process and told the Post-Dispatch that he expects the bill to pass by mid-May.

Parson unveiled the Fast Track program during his State of the State address in January. The plan, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, would give Missouri residents grants to pursue training and degrees in “high-demand” jobs.

Despite the initially warm reception, the bill was met with scrutiny over its lack of specifics late last month. In particular, lawmakers have called for the bill to specify which industries will be included in the incentives program.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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