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Opinion: The Missouri and federal governments must look at infrastructure improvements to mitigate disasters before they happen

  

As a conservative, I am constantly advocating for responsible and sensible spending from our government. The taxpayers of this state entrust their elected officials to look out for their interests and to make sure essential services are being funded to meet the needs of the people. 

One of the largest areas of concern for my constituents, and most Missourians, is to adequately care for our state’s infrastructure network: to make sure our roads, bridges, and highways are usable to the people. Every community in the state–rural, urban, or suburban–relies on our infrastructure for their most basic economic and transportation needs. So, when there is an issue with infrastructure, thousands of Missourians can suffer.

Sadly, 2019 has been a tough year on thousands of Missourians because of the horrendous flooding that took place. Entire communities were affected. One of the most devastating consequences was that local roads and even major highways were completely submerged underwater for weeks on end. This includes, but is not limited to Highway 65, one of the most important highways in our state.

State Sen. Denny Hoskins (PROVIDED).

When major highways like Highway 65 are flooded, our state, our businesses, and our citizens lose millions of dollars in commerce because of the impassibility of the roads. This effect can ripple nationwide when highways are closed, and suddenly transportation becomes impossible. Highway 65, for instance, spans almost 1,000 miles, and connects 5 states. When it is closed, businesses nationwide are hurt.

I am not the first to lament about the floods of 2019. Almost every corner of our state was impacted by flood waters in some capacity this year. However, as a state senator and custodian of the people’s interests, I believe that 2019 should serve as a wake up call to all elected officials at every level of government that more must be done to mitigate the damage from floods like this in the future. This means that we need to rethink our priorities, and to invest money in trying to lessen the impact disasters before they happen.

At a state level, my colleagues and I will be looking at ways to direct more money towards smart infrastructure improvements to make our roads, bridges, and communities more flood resistant. Additionally, the federal government and Congress have a very important role to play in improving our infrastructure. I am calling on our congressional delegation, Representatives Sam Graves, Vicky Hartzler, Lacy Clay, Jason Smith, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Emanuel Cleaver, and Ann Wagner, as well as Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley to continue to advocate for infrastructure improvements nationwide, and right here in Missouri. Rather than having to spend exorbitant amounts of money after each disaster, our communities will actually save money in the future by preparing for disasters in the present. 

I believe that one of the most responsible steps our government can take is to set aside money today to save money later on. It is not always a politically popular move to advocate for spending the people’s money–especially when the long term benefits cannot be seen right away. However, when the long term benefits of such an investment are undeniably strong, and the fact that these disasters have frequently occurred, and will undoubtedly occur again, then we as elected officials have a duty to take affirmative steps to make sure that a disaster of this scale will not happen again. We can actually save money in the future by making smart investments today, and that is a position a conservative should advocate for.