This week I wrapped up my summer by learning more about promoting economic development and job readiness in Missouri. On either coast or in the middle of America, we all face the problem of providing paths to meaningful work and fulfilled lives. This week I attended a meeting that met these issues head on and provided a venue for exploring new paths of growth.
Rural development meeting
This week Farm Bureau hosted its annual meeting concerning rural issues. The topics included broadband expansion, rural healthcare access, and transportation. Also, during lunch a Farm Bureau economist shared his thoughts on agricultural markets, and farm incomes for the future.
Considering the importance of digital information and communication, broadband, high-speed internet access is critical in today's world. If you live in the country as I do, you know that connectivity can be an issue. Many of us get by with cell tower or satellite service, but this often depends on your location. Considering that learning, work, and many areas of communication are tied to the Internet, being and remaining on a solid, high-speed connection is crucial for today's rural existence. Also, 9-1-1 emergency availability is an issue for many counties around the state. Both issues have been addressed by the General Assembly, but without resolution. The legislators in attendance agree that the conversation needs to continue and we should move toward a future solution.
Attracting and retaining medical professionals to rural areas is also a concern. The high cost of living is a detriment to recruitment, and many medial practitioners tend to come from urban areas. One proposed solution is telemedicine, something the legislature has enhanced since I have been a member. However, this also ties back to rural Internet access, so the issues become more and more complex.
Finally, the problem of roads consumed much of our time at the meeting. All engineers I have spoken with over the last few years tell me that no matter how good the surface of I-70 appears, it is crumbling underneath. Add to this 34,000 miles of highways and 10,000 bridges in the state, and we have our hands full keeping Missouri physically connected. Several ideas have surfaced, and I rest assured this will be an issue in the upcoming session.
Tax amnesty period begins
Missourians who owe back taxes now have the opportunity to pay their debts without penalties or interest thanks to a tax amnesty period approved by the General Assembly. The program began September 1 and runs through November 30.
The state revenue department estimates as many as 350,000 taxpayers could be eligible for the amnesty period and the state could generate as much as $75 million in revenue from the back taxes that are paid. The state has previously authorized tax amnesty periods that brought in approximately $74 million for fiscal year 2002 and $42 million for fiscal year 2003.
Anyone who makes use of the forgiveness procedures must agree to comply with tax laws and cannot use the same amnesty procedure again in future years. If they fail to comply, they will be charged the interest and other penalties that had been forgiven.
For more information, visit http://dor.mo.gov/amnesty.php.
Few of us will ever forget where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. When the planes hit the Twin Towers in New York it changed life in America forever. Tomorrow there will be several commemorative events, and I encourage you to attend one. However, if you cannot, please take a moment to reflect on freedom and those who would liberty away from us.