Stouffer makes stop in Concordia, visits Lions

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

With just shy of year left in the campaign season, Concordia got a visit from one of the Republicans hoping to challenge U.S. Representative Ike Skelton for Missouri's Fourth District seat.

State Sen. Bill Stouffer, of Napton, was in town Monday to speak with members of the Concordia Lions Club. During his short presentation, Stouffer touched on the economy and its impact on Missouri's transportation spending. Stouffer is chair of the Senate's transportation subcommittee.

"It's going to be tough sledding," Stouffer said. "And next year's going to be worse than this year."

The challenge for lawmakers is not going to be whether to make cuts, but where to make them, Stouffer said. He noted that 85 percent of the state's budget is used for social support programs and education.

"It's impossible to make cuts that don't affect somebody," he said.

Stouffer said he has been meeting recently with business owners who want to expand, but economic uncertainties hold them back. He said issues like cap and trade and health care reform leave them with unanswered questions.

"It's impossible to sit down and make a rational projection of your return on investment," Stouffer said.

Moving on to transportation, Stouffer said the state had been making progress. He noted projects like the "Safe and Sound" bridge replacement program as success stories. That program has already replaced more than 100 bridges in largely rural areas and nearly 700 more are slated for replacement. Included among those are several on Missouri Highway 23 north of Concordia.

One area that won't be seeing work anytime soon is the Blackwater Bottoms area south of Concordia. He said that project on Highway 23 will take a series of bridges to complete and is too costly to be considered at this time. Stouffer said he does bring it up in his committee to make sure it isn't forgotten altogether, however.

In his closing remarks, Stouffer said that despite the economic gloom, he is confident there is still a lot of potential for prosperity.

"Tough times are also times of opportunity," he said.

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