While Missouri Governor Mike Parson is focused on his own election later this year, another campaign also is getting his attention: Medicaid expansion.

Momentum is growing to get an initiative petition on the November ballot that would boost Missouri’s Medicaid budget, but the Republican governor isn’t buying it and is aiming to fight against it.

“We currently have 1 out of every 6 individuals that’s on the Medicaid system right now in the state of Missouri, 1 out of every 6,” he said in an interview with News-Press NOW. “So 1 million out of 6 million are already on Medicaid.”

Parson said that it would cost more money to expand the program, which provides health insurance for low-income and disabled individuals.

“There’s no way to save money when you expand government,” Parson said. “Those are the things I think people need to understand and then make that decision — whether they want to do that or if they want to give up something for that.”

Collecting online sales tax

Another issue addressed by Parson was whether or not he would sign a measure that would begin collecting online sales tax in the state.

“I think the big argument is how you spend the money,” he said. “But, what I’ve asked the legislators to do right now is at least start collecting it. If nothing else, put it in a savings account.”

Parson also contended that not collecting the tax was not fair for businesses in the state.

“We are one of the last states to do this and we’re just getting passed up,” Parson said. “Probably $100 million by just not doing this and we need to really get engaged in this.”

The governor said that is money that could be spent on a variety of things, including a fund to deal with something the state was devastated by in 2019: flooding.

Meeting with Trump

to discuss flooding

The issue of flooding was a major topic Parson talked to other governors, and President Donald Trump, about earlier this week as dozens of the country’s chief executives gathered in Washington, D.C.

Privately, Missouri’s governor met with his counterparts from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The primary objective was the management of the Missouri River.

“We had an opportunity to talk to the president about that directly,” Parson said. “He committed to us that he would get engaged in the process and understood the problems that we are having and was willing to take another meeting to discuss that.”

Parson said there’s a tremendous push to change the management of the river and that he was “very encouraged” by his meetings this week.

Mark Zinn can be reached

at mark.zinn@knpn.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @KNPNZinn.