Shields acknowledged Missouri is facing difficult times, but challenged senators to see the opportunities difficult choices create.
"We must continue to develop the tools to help our existing businesses grow and to attract new businesses that will bring jobs to our citizens," Shields said. "If we are to succeed in creating a more educated workforce, we must make changes in our education system from birth to higher education."
Shields also said the Senate should continue its efforts to help more Missourians find and afford health care. "Simply put, we must begin to make serious strides towards moving our state's 700,000 uninsured into coverage," he said.
A total of 17 senators were sworn in during the opening ceremony, 11 were returning members as well as six new members that were elected on November 5, 2008.
The 2009 regular session will run through May 15. To track legislation visit here.