Gov. Parson discusses meeting Trump and transparency in exclusive interview

KRCG 13's Kermit Miller sat down with Governor Mike Parson to discuss his first three weeks in office. (Riccardo Montgomery/KRCG 13)

Governor Mike Parson has just wrapped up his third week as governor, and sat down for the first time with a mid-Missouri news station to speak on some of his experience.

KRCG 13's Kermit Miller was able to discuss what it's been like to be Missouri's top official and what Parson plans to change during his administration.

Gov. Mike Parson visited the nation's capital Thursday to attend. a working lunch with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. During the lunch, state governors and members of the White House cabinet discussed best practices. Parson laid out Missouri’s top priorities, including infrastructure and workforce development.

"It was pretty laid back," Parson said about the meeting.

Parson said the President was receptive and open at the lunch, asking the other governors in the room to express what issues they were facing.

"I really believe it was a genuine meeting where they were listening," he said, "I thought it was a really good informational meeting that really felt like when I left out of there we got something accomplished for the state."

When Parson described his interaction with Trump he said he noticed the president's business craft.

"He's a professional businessman, he talks about things you're doing," Parson said.

The Missouri governor also noted how the President handled controversial topics. Parson specifically mentioned tariffs, a topic he disagrees with the President on.

"He thinks in the long run tariffs are going to be a good thing," Parson said, "but he acknowledged they're going to be painful for a little while."

Upon returning to the Show Me state, Parson signed his first bills into law Friday.

Those bills include the addition of disposable diapers to the August sales tax holiday, changes to insurance and legal guardian laws. One bill addressed a Missouri Department of Natural Resource policy which included a new fund to investigate radioactive waste.

In the interview, Parson also said he supports a proposal to increase the gasoline tax-- an issue that will be on the November ballot.

"We gotta do something about infrastructure in this state," he said.

"I want to work through that and I'm going to support that particular gas tax."

Parson has described infrastructure as a priority, saying it's been put off long enough.

"I want the average Missourian out there, the workforce, to know we're doing this because we're going to make Missouri better, we're going to create more jobs, and expand the businesses we have," the governor said.

He said he plans to be as transparent as possible when trying to implement the gas tax. He wants his constituents to know what they're voting for and know that there will be a plan to execute and utilize the funds.

"I'm going to try to make sure the people in Missouri know the facts of what's in that, how it's going to help, what we're going to do with that, and with MODOT to have a plan in place," he said.

This urge for transparency aligns with his push to reassure Missouri residents of the stability and continuity of state government-- factors he said he's had to prioritize due to the previous administration.

Parson identified one area of the Eric Greitens administration that needed immediate change.

"Transparency," he said without hesitation.

Parson said he defines transparency as being more open with the media, informing his constituents of his schedule and agenda.

KRCG 13's Kermit proceeded to ask about a previous lawsuit that challenged Parson's vision of transparency. The lawsuit included then senators Mike Kehoe and David Sater that alleged the gentlemen did not provide public access to committee hearings.

Parson said the hearings were recorded and audio was provided.

"These committee rooms up here, there's absolutely no way you can fit a press corps in there and still have hearings for the general public. What we did there, we provided audio. I believe at the time they could record word for word what's going on in the hearing. I thought that was sufficient at the time."

The result of the lawsuit determined the Senate could make its own access rules independent of sunshine law restrictions.

Parson said ultimately he wants Missourians to know what they're getting with this new administration, he aims to improve transparency.

"I want people to know what my cabinet is going to be about, what my staff is going to be about, we want to be pretty open," Parson said.

"I want people to know who I am."

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