State of the State | MPB News

State of the State | MPB News


>>LIVE FROM THE STATE CAPITOL IN JACKSON, WE BRING YOU THE GOVERNOR’S ANNUAL STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS DELIVERED TO A SPECIAL JOINT SESSION OF THE MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE.>>THIS JOINT ASSEMBLY OF THE MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE IS NOW CALLED TO ORDER. YOU’RE RECOGNIZED TO READ THE ESCORT COMMITTEE FOR GOVERNOR BRYANT AND FIRST LADY DEBORAH BRYANT.>>CHRIS JOHNSON ASHLEY HANLEY AND ORLANDO PAIDEN AS WELL AS SENATORS DEAN KIRBY, ANGELA HILL AND JOHN HORN TO ESCORT GOVERNOR BRYANT AND HIS WIFE DEBORAH TO THE SPEAKER’S STAND. [ APPLAUSE ] [ APPLAUSE ]>>LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, AT THIS TIME IT GIVES ME GREAT HONOR TO INTRODUCE TO YOU THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF THIS STATE WHO WILL PRESIDE OVER THIS JOINT ASSEMBLY. PLEASE WELCOME YOUR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU, MR. SPEAKER. IT GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE TONIGHT THE WIFE OF SPEAKER GUNN WHO IS WITH US. PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING LISA GUNN. [ APPLAUSE ] AND NOW LET ME INTRODUCE HOUSE SPEAKER PRO-TEM GREG SNOWDEN. [ APPLAUSE ] MY COLLEAGUES IN THE SENATE AND I ENJOY WORKING WITH YOU BOTH SPEAKER GUNN AND SPEAKER PRO-TEM SNOWDEN FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS AND LOOK FORWARD TO DOING SO FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. AT THIS TIME I WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE PRESIDENT PRO-TEM OF THE MISSISSIPPI STATE, SENATOR TERRY BURTON. [ APPLAUSE ] NOW LET’S WELCOME OUR STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS IN ATTENDANCE TONIGHT. FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE DELBERT HOSEMANN. [ APPLAUSE ] STATE TREASURER LYNN FITCH. [ APPLAUSE ] COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE MIKE CHANEY. [ APPLAUSE ] AND NOW PLEASE HELP ME WELCOME THE MEMBERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT. PLEASE HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE UNTIL ALL HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED. CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM L. WALLER JR. JUSTIN ANN H. LAMAR. JUSTICE JAMES W. KITCHENS. JUSTICE LESLIE D. KING. JUSTICE JOSIAH D. COLEMAN. JUSTICE JAMES D. MAXWELL. JUSTICE DESIGNATE DAWN H. BEAM. PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING THEM. [ APPLAUSE ] AND NOW LET’S WELCOME THE MEMBERS OF OUR STATE COURT OF APPEALS. CHIEF JUDGE JOSEPH LEE. PRESIDING JUDGE KENNY GRIFFIS. JUDGE DONNA BARNES. JUDGE DAVID ISHEE. JUDGE VIRGINIA CARLTON. JUDGE EUGENE FAIR JR. JUDGE CEOLA JAMES. JUDGE JACK WILSON. JUDGE JIM GREENLEE. WELCOME. [ APPLAUSE ] AND NOW JOIN ME IN WELCOMING THE THREE MEMBERS OF OUR PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION. BRANDON PRESLEY OF THE NORTHERN DISTRICT. CECIL BROWN OF THE CENTRAL DISTRICT. AND SAM BRITTON OF THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT. [ APPLAUSE ] AND PLEASE JOIN ME IN WELCOMING THE MEMBERS OF OUR TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION WITH US TODAY. MIKE TAGERT OF THE NORTHERN DISTRICT. AND DICK HALL OF THE CENTRAL DISTRICT. [ APPLAUSE ] IT IS MY HONOR AT THIS TIME TO INTRODUCE A GREAT FIRST LADY OF THE STATE MISSISSIPPI, DEBORAH BRYANT. [ APPLAUSE ] AND AT THIS TIME, IT GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE TO WELCOME THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HONORABLE PHIL BRYANT. [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU! GOOD EVENING. [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH. THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR THAT WONDERFUL WELCOME. THANK YOU, MR. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR. AS ALWAYS, I APPRECIATE YOUR PRESIDING OVER THIS, OUR FIFTH STATE OF THE STATE TOGETHER. I’M CONFIDENT THIS TERM OF OFFICE WILL BE AS PRODUCTIVE AS OUR FIRST ONE. THIS STATE WOULD NOT HAVE ENJOYED THE SUCCESS I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO REPORT THESE PAST FOUR YEARS WITHOUT THE LEADERSHIP OF YOU AND SPEAKER GUNN. NO GOVERNOR HAS EVER HAD THE BENEFIT OF ANY BETTER PARTNERS ALONG THE PATH TO MISSISSIPPI’S FUTURE. I ERNESTLY AND SINCERELY THANK YOU AND YOUR HONORABLE MEMBERSHIP. EACH YEAR I HAVE NOTED THE MOST ENERGETIC APPLAUSE HAS BEEN SREFRBED FOR THE FIRST LADY. PERSONALLY OBSERVING HER HARD WORK AND DEDICATION TO THE PEOPLE WE ALL REPRESENT, I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT REACTION. I NEED ONLY THANK MY FIRST LADY FOR 39 YEARS AND MISSISSIPPI’S FIRST LADY, DEBORAH BRYANT. [ APPLAUSE ] I SINCERELY APPRECIATE ALL THE STATEWIDE AND DISTRICT ELECTED OFFICIALS HERE TONIGHT. I’M GRATEFUL TO HAVE THE MEMBERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT AND MISSISSIPPI COURT OF APPEALS HERE WITH US. I HAVE HAD THE RARE PRIVILEGE OF APPOINTING SUCH FINE JURISTS AS JUDGE DAWN BEAM AND JUDGE JAMES MAXWELL TO THE SUPREME COURT. I HAVE APPOINTED ESTEEMED HARVARD LAW GRADUATE JACK WILSON AND FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY JIM GREENLEE TO THE COURT OF APPEALS. TONIGHT WE ARE ALL HONORED BY THE COURTS’ PRESENCE. LET ME SAY CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE MEMBERS HERE TONIGHT, PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO HAVE OR WILL BE SELECTED AS COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN. I CAN ASSURE YOU THE LEADERSHIP WEIGHS EVERY APPOINTMENT WITH EXTREME DELIBERATION AND ATTENTION. I AM CERTAIN YOU WILL DO NO LESS IN THE CONSIDERATION OF YOUR IMPORTANT DUTIES AS COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN AND CHAIR WOMEN. 25 YEARS AGO I TOOK THE OATH OF OFFICE AS A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. IT WAS A WONDERFUL DAY AND HAS BEEN A BEAUTIFUL JOURNEY. BUT ALL ALONG THE WAY I HAVE REMEMBERED THE PRIDE AND EXCITEMENT I FELT BECOMING A REPRESENTATIVE OF THIS BODY AND A HUMBLE PUBLIC SERVANT. MY GOAL THEN AS IT IS TODAY WAS TO DO THE MOST GOOD. I BELIEVE WE’VE ALL HAD HELP ACCOMPLISHING OUR GOALS AND OUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIVES. YOU SEE, I AM CONFIDENT GOD CONTINUES TO RULE OVER THE AFFAIRS OF MAN, AND I BELIEVE HE IS BLESSED MISSISSIPPI’S LEADERSHIP AND ITS PEOPLE. WE NOW FACE A NEW YEAR WHERE I AM ABLE TO INFORM THE PEOPLE AND THE DEARLY ELECTED MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE, THE STATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI IS SOUND. [ APPLAUSE ] DISRUPTED ONLY OCCASIONALLY BY SOME CHALLENGES OF OUR OWN MAKING. ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN THE STATE. AS YOU KNOW, FISCAL YEAR 2016 REVENUE PROJECTIONS WERE SOMEWHAT OPTIMISTIC. WE ARE OPTIMISTIC. AT THE END OF LAST YEAR’S SESSION THE REVENUE ESTIMATING COMMITTEE PROJECTED A GROWTH OF 2.2%, OR ABOUT $124 MILLION INCREASE OVER FY 2015. AS WAS PRUDENT THE COMMITTEE READJUSTED THE REVENUE AFTER COLLECTIONS FAILED TO MEET PROJECTIONS. IN NOVEMBER OF 2016, REVENUE ESTIMATES WERE REDUCED BY $65 MILLION. NECESSARY TATING FUTURE BUDGET REDUCTIONS. NOW, IN ORDER TO BALANCE THE STATE BUDGET, I INSTRUCTED THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATIONS TO TRANSFER $35 MILLION FROM THE RAINY DAY FUND TO THE GENERAL FUND AND INSTITUTED SUCH TO SOME AGENCIES A 1.5%. A NUMBER OF CRITICAL AGENCIES AND SOME THAT HAVE ALREADY HAVE DEFICITS WERE EXCLUDED FROM THE CUTS. THIS INCLUDED PUBLIC SAFETY AND VETERANS AFFAIRS. THE MISSISSIPPI ADEQUATE EDUCATION PROGRAM AND FINANCIAL AID WERE ALSO EXEMPTED. NOW, FORTUNATELY, OUR SAVINGS ACCOUNT, A RAINY DAY FUND, IS AVAILABLE FOR JUST PROJECTED SHORTFALLS. IF REVENUES CONTINUE TO BE UNDER PROJECTED I’LL TRANSFER AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF FUNDS AND MAKE SIMILAR CUTS TO STATE AGENCIES. THIS IS THE GOVERNOR’S STATUTORY RESPONSIBILITY, AND I WILL NOT HESITATE TO CARRY OUT THIS DUTY. IF I COULD ADD HERE A REMINDER THAT THE EXECUTIVE BUDGET RECOMMENDATION FOR FY 2016 WAS $68 MILLION LESS IN SPENDING THAT APPROPRIATED. YOU KNOW THE EBR, AS WE CALL IT AT THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE, THAT’S THAT DOCUMENT WE’RE GONNA START LABELING, PLEASE READ BEFORE DISCARDING. FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, AN ECONOMY OF EXECUTIVE BUDGET RECOMMENDATION FOR FISCAL YEAR 2016 HAS BEEN PLACED ON YOUR DESK. I’M SURE YOU’LL ENJOY IT. AS YOU WILL SEE IN THAT DOCUMENT, OUR PROJECTIONS KEEP MOST AGENCIES’ BUDGETS LEVEL FUNDED FOR FY 2017. IT IS AN EASY GUIDE FOR BALANCING THE STATE’S BUDGET WITHOUT SPENDING ONE TIME MONEY FOR REOCCURRING EXPENSES AND IT RESTORES THE BALANCE OF THE RAINY DAY FUND TO ITS STATUTORY LIMIT. THAT’S FULL OF TOUGH DECISIONS AND SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICES. AND IT WILL NOT MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY. HOWEVER, IT MAY HELP PREVENT CUTS IN AGENCIES NEXT YEAR BY BEING FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE THIS YEAR. THE SLOW REVENUE GROWTH IS CURIOUS TO MOST OF US INCLUDING OUR STATE ECONOMISTS. THE SHORTFALL SEEMS TO BE THE RESULT OF A REDUCTION IN SALES AND USE TAX COLLECTIONS. AS WE ALL EXPECTED OIL AND GAS SEVERANCE GAS TAX WAS UNDER THE PRIOR YEAR. HOWEVER, THE INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX HAS INCREASED BY $17.6 MILLION OVER LAST YEAR REFLECTING THE GROWTH IN JOBS. IT APPEARS TAX PAYERS SIMPLY REMAIN HESITANT TO SPEND ON CONSUMER GOODS IN THIS FRAGILE ECONOMY. NOW, SOME PORTION OF THE DECLINE IN SALES TAX CAN ALSO BE ATTRIBUTED TO O LINE PURCHASES WHERE THE STATE RECEIVES LITTLE INCOME. THIS DECLINE IN SALES IS CLEARLY UNDERSTANDABLE AS THE STOCK MARKET DROPS AND THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY IN A FREE FALL. MISSISSIPPI IS PART OF A GLOBAL ECONOMY AND NOT PROTECTED FROM ITS INSTABILITIES. THERE ARE SIMPLY SOME CONDITIONS WELL BEYOND OUR CONTROL HERE IN THE CAPITAL. SO LET US CONCENTRATE ON THE IMPROVEMENTS WE CAN AND SHOULD MAKE HERE IN MISSISSIPPI, BEGINNING WITH SOME GOOD NEWS. AS YOU KNOW, THIS YEAR $150 MILLION WILL BE RECEIVED FROM THE RESTORE ACT FOR APPROPRIATIONS BY THE LEGISLATURE. I HAVE A PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED SOME $54 MILLION IN ECONOMIC RESTORATION PROJECTS ON THE GULF COAST AND OVER $200 MILLION OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION AND CONSERVATION PROJECTS. BEGINNING IN 2019, $40 MILLION A YEAR WILL BE FORWARDED TO THE LEGISLATURE FROM THE SETTLEMENT UNTIL 2033. THIS REVENUE WILL ADD $600 MILLION TO MISSISSIPPI’S CALL FOR THOSE 15 YEARS. I WILL OBVIOUSLY DEFER THE DECISION REGARDING THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THESE FUNDS TO THE LEGISLATURE AS IT SHOULD BE. HOWEVER, I DO FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THE RESTORATION OF THE GULF COAST. AFTER ALL, IT WAS THE GULF COAST THAT FELT THE IMPACT OF THE LARGEST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER IN THIS NATION’S HISTORY. ONLY FIVE YEARS AFTER SUFFERING OUR NATION’S WORST NATURAL DISASTER. I’LL WORK TO BRING THESE FUNDS TOTALLING OVER $2 BILLION TO THE STATE IS ALL BUT COMPLETE. I CAN ASSURE YOU THIS EFFORT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE HELP OF OUR CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION, PARTICULARLY CONGRESSMAN STEVEN PALAZZO. AND YOUR STATE LEADERSHIP INCLUDING ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD. IT IS ALSO THE HARD WORK OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND THEIR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GARY RIKARD WHO HAVE SHEPHERD THIS COMPLEX SYSTEM TO A BENEFICIAL CONCLUSION. THEY SHOULD BE COMMENDED ALL OF THEM FOR A JOB WELL DONE. [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU.>>UNLIKE MANY OF OUR NEIGHBORING STATES WHO HAVE HAD FINANCIAL AND BUDGET CHALLENGES, WE DO NOT HAVE A LARGE DEFICIT, BUT RATHER A SAVINGS OF NEARLY $400 MILLION. AS STATED EARLIER, INCOME COULD BE BETTER AND REDUCTIONS IN SOME BUDGETS WERE NECESSARY TO MEET THE REVISED INCOME OF FISCAL YEAR 2016. BUT THESE ARE EXPECTED BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS WHEN THE ECONOMY SLOWS AND REVENUES DECLINE. IT IS ALSO THE RESULT OF A 30% CUMULATIVE GROWTH AND BUDGET EXPENDITURES OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS. OUR GENERAL FUND BUDGET GREW FROM $4.4 BILLION IN FY 2011 TO $5.7 BILLION IN 2016. A FIVE YEAR INCREASE OF MORE THAN $1 BILLION. NOW THESE INCREASES HAVE INCLUDED $400 MILLION MORE SPENDING ON K-12 EDUCATION. AND OVERALL INCREASES IN EDUCATION TO INCLUDE $100 MILLION TEACHER PAY RAISE. IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS NEARLY EVERY AGENCY HAS SEEN MORE REVENUE, MORE SPENDING ON GOVERNMENT SERVICES. IN FACT, THE STATE PERSONNEL BOARD ESTIMATES THAT OVER 11,000 STATE EMPLOYEES HAVE RECEIVED RAISES IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS ALONE. NOW, THESE RAISES DO NOT INCLUDE THOSE IN K-12, COMMUNITY COLLEGES OR OUR UNIVERSITIES. PERHAPS AFTER REVIEWING STATE SPENDING SINCE 2011, IT MAY BE TIME TO SLOW DOWN THE GROWTH OF GOVERNMENT AND GIVE SOME RELIEF TO THE HARDWORKING TAXPAYER. [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU. THANK YOU. NOW, I AM CERTAIN WE WILL HAVE A ROBUST DEBATE THIS SESSION REGARDING TAX REDUCTION. AS FOR ME, I BELIEVE WE MUST WORK TOWARD THE PLAN WHERE THE HARDWORKING BLUE COLLAR FAMILIES OF MISSISSIPPI GET A TAX DIVIDEND. IT MAY NOT BE THIS YEAR. BUT WHEN WE ARE HAVING SURPLUSES AND A FULL SAVINGS ACCOUNT, LET’S PLACE TO GIVE THE PEOPLE BACK A PORTION OF THEIR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS. MORE MISSISSIPPIANS ARE WORKING TODAY SINCE ANY OTHER TIME SINCE NOVEMBER OF 2008. OVER 40,000 MORE PEOPLE HAVE JOBS AND MORE THAN EVER HAVE BEGUN TO SEARCH FOR WORK. [ APPLAUSE ] WHEN COMPANIES BEGIN TO HIRE AND PLANTS OPEN AS THEY HAVE IN MISSISSIPPI, PEOPLE COME OFF THE SIDELINES TO FIND A CAREER. THIS ADDS TO THE DEMAND FOR MORE JOBS. TONIGHT ACCORDING TO THE MISSISSIPPI WORKS APP, YOU CAN CHECK IT, THERE ARE OVER 41,000 CAREERS AVAILABLE ACROSS THE STATE. WELL OVER 12,000 INDIVIDUALS ARE RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ACCORDING TO THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY. IT IS THIS SKILLS GAP WE MUST FILL TO REACH OUR GOAL OF FULL EMPLOYMENT. LAST YEAR I ASKED YOU TO INVEST $50 MILLION INTO WORK FORCE TRAINING UTILIZING OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND ASSISTED BY OUR STATE WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT BOARD. THESE FUNDS WOULD GO TO MODERNIZE EQUIPMENT AT COMMUNITY COLLEGES AND PLACE STUDENTS IN A WORK FORCE TRAINING FOR THE MIDDLE SKILLS THAT WE SO DESPERATELY NEED. THESE ADDITIONAL WORKERS WILL GENERATE WOR TAX REVENUE AND HELP STATE NEEDS OR PROVIDE THE BLUE COLLAR DIVIDEND I SPOKE ABOUT EARLIER. NOW THERE’S NO CONFLICT WITH THIS ADMINISTRATION IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THESE WORK FORCE FUNDS. I AM PROUD TO SAY WE WERE THE FIRST STATE TO SUBMIT A WORK FORCE INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY ACTION PLAN TO THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. [ APPLAUSE ] THIS ACTION PLAN IS AVAILABLE ONLINE FOR YOUR REVIEW ON THE MISSISSIPPI WORKS WEBSITE. OVERSIGHT OF THIS PROGRAM RESTS AT THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY. WE HAVE RECONSTRUCTED STATE WORK FORCE DEVELOPMENT AND HAVE SUBMITTED THIS REORGANIZATION PLAN TO THE STATE AUDITOR AND LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP FOR REVIEW. NOW IT’S TIME TO MAKE THE INVESTMENT IN MISSISSIPPI’S WORK FORCE BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. WE HAVE $50 MILLION SITTING IDLEY IN UNEMPLOYMENT TRUST FUND. LET US PLEASE INVEST IT NOW IN WORK FORCE TRAINING AND I WILL SHOW YOU MISSISSIPPI’S GREATEST POTENTIAL. WE COULD LEAD THE NATION IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IF YOU WILL GIVE US THE TOOLS TO REACH THESE GOALS. RUSH WITH ME TONIGHT THROUGH THE ENTRANCE TO THE FUTURE. OR STAND BEHIND AS IT CLOSES ON THE CAREERS OF MISSISSIPPI’S NEXT GENERATION. CHOICE IS YOURS. ALL OF YOU WHO WILL MOVE BOLDLY INTO THIS NEW OPPORTUNITY JOIN WITH ME TONIGHT AND MOVE TOGETHER FORWARD. [ APPLAUSE ] MISSISSIPPI’S INVESTMENTS TO INCENTIVIZE INDUSTRY HAVE PAID DIVIDENDS TO THIS STATE. OUR INVESTMENT REPORT INDICATES AN 11:1 RETURN ON EVERY DOLLAR SPENT FOR THIS PURPOSE. [ APPLAUSE ] NOW I HAVE GIVEN YOU MY ASSURANCE IN THE PAST AND WILL PLEDGE ONCE MORE TO BE EVER VIGILANT WITH THESE HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS. MORE THAN A DECADE THE STATE AUDITOR GAVE ME AN ABUNDANCE SESSION OF CAUTION. I WILL REFUSE ANY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT THAT WILL PUT YOUR TRUST ON THE TAXPAYER’S INVESTMENT AT RISK. TIME DOES NOT PERMIT ME TO LIST ALL OF THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFORT THIS PAST YEAR. FOR YOUR BENEFIT, I WILL SUMMARIZE BY PROVIDING THE IMPORTANT OUTCOMES. IT INCLUDES THE ADDITION OF OVER 5,000 JOBS AND $787 MILLION IN PRIVATE INVESTMENT IN 2015. IN FOUR YEARS THE MISSISSIPPI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY PROJECTS HAVE BROUGHT THE STATE OVER 21,000 JOBS AND $3 BILLION IN PRIVATE SECTOR INVESTMENT. WE NOW DO BUSINESS ON A GLOBAL SCALE. IN FACT, ACCORDING TO THE U.S. CHAMBER FOUNDATION, WE ARE THE NUMBER THREE STATE IN AMERICA FOR EXPORT GROWTH. AND THE SECOND BEST FOR OVER ALL COST OF DOING BUSINESS. THIS IS SOMETHING WE SHOULD BE PROUD OF, MISSISSIPPIANS. NOW, AS ALWAYS, I PROMISE TO KEEP THESE REMARKS BRIEF NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES. [ LAUGHTER ] SO LET ME MOVE URGENTLY TO THIS ADMINISTRATION’S AGGRESSIVE AGENDA. FIRST I NEED YOUR HELP IN PROVIDING SECURITY AND PROTECTION FOR THE NEARLY 5,000 FOSTER CHILDREN NOW UNDER OUR CARE. [ APPLAUSE ] AS WE ALL KNOW THE OLIVIA WILDE LAWSUIT HAS TARNISHED THE IMAGE OF OUR STATE’S TREATMENT OF FOSTER CHILDREN AND FOSTER PARENT, MANY OF WHOM SERVED FROM A SENSE OF CARING AND CHRISTIAN COMPASSION. AS IS REQUIRED BY THE LAWS OF THIS STATE AND NATION, WE MUST ACCEPT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ADEQUATELY CARE FOR THESE CHILDREN. I WILL ASK YOU TO HELP SUPPORT FAMILY AND CHILDREN SERVICES. CURRENTLY HOUSES THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES. TO BE FASHIONED AS A SEPARATE AGENCY THAT REPORTS DIRECTLY TO THE GOVERNOR. NOW, TO REDUCE THE COST, WE CAN UTILIZE THAT PORTION OF THE FUNDING CURRENTLY BEING SPENT AT THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES FOR THIS DIVISION. PLUS AN ADDITIONAL AMOUNT THAT MUST BE DECIDED BY THIS LEGISLATURE. I AM CONCERNED IF WE CANNOT MAKE SOME AGGRESSIVE COMMITMENTS TO FOSTER CARE IN THIS STATE THEN THE COURTS WILL DO SO FOR US. MANY OF US RECENTLY HAD SOME OPPOSITION TO A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT THAT WOULD HAVE GIVEN THE COURTS APPROPRIATION AUTHORITY. NOW, I BELIEVE WE SHOULD BE JUST AS DETERMINED NOT TO ACCEPT THE SAME PRINCIPLE IN THIS INSTANCE. I ASK YOU TO MAKE A DECISION THAT WILL PROTECT OUR FOSTER CHILDREN AND ALLOW YOU TO RETAIN THE APPROPRIATION AUTHORITY IN THE LEGISLATURE WHERE IT BELONGS. FORTUNATELY, I AM NOT ALONE IN THIS DESIRE TO IMPROVE OUR FOSTER CARE SYSTEM. I HAVE A POWERFUL ALLY, A MAN OF HONOR AN DISTINCTION. HE IS A NOTED EDUCATOR AND JURIST WHO TRADED THE ACCLAIM OF THE MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT TO SERVE A CALLING TO HELP OUR CHILDREN. PLEASE HELP ME THANK JUSTICE DAVID CHANDLER THE NEW DIRECTOR OF FAMILY AND CHILDREN SERVICES. [ APPLAUSE ] MR. CHANDLER.>>THANK YOU. THANK YOU.>>I SAVED THE BEST REPORT FOR LAST. ALLOW ME TO THANK YOU AGAIN FOR TAKING THE COURAGEOUS STEPS DURING THE PAST FOUR YEARS AND BEGINNING THE TRANSFORMATION OF OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. OUR EFFORTS ARE BEGINNING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. LAST YEAR OUR FOURTH GRADERS LED THE NATION, THE NATION’S IMPROVEMENT IN READING AND MATH. OVER 90% OF OUR THIRD GRADERS PASSED THEIR READING TEST LAST YEAR AND 95% OF OUR AT RISK STUDENTS STAYED IN SCHOOL. WITH 82% GOING ON TO A CAREER COLLEGE OR THE UNITED STATES MILITARY. [ APPLAUSE ] WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS. TWO CHARTER SCHOOLS WERE OPENED IN JACKSON. SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN RECEIVED SCHOLARSHIPS TO GET THE HELP THEY DESERVE. AND MISSISSIPPI RANKED FOURTH IN THE NATION FOR THE PERCENTAGE OF TEACHERS WHO ARE NATIONALLY BOARD CERTIFIED. MISSISSIPPI INCHED UP THE LADDER OF NATIONAL RATINGS. WE ARE NOT PREPARED TO CELEBRATE OUR STATE’S OVERALL RATING BUT WE ARE MOVING FORWARD AND WE INTEND TO CONTINUE TO DO SO. [ APPLAUSE ] I WILL ASK YOU FOR MORE INNOVATION BY FIRST CHANGING HOW WE GO ABOUT SELECTING OUR LOCAL SUPERINTENDENTS OF EDUCATION. OF THE ENTIRE NATION, MISSISSIPPI HAS ONE-THIRD OF ALL THAT ARE ELECTED TO THIS IMPORTANT POSITION. THERE’S A REASON MOST OF THE NATION HAVE ELECTED SCHOOL BOARDS AND APPOINTED SUPERINTENDENTS. BECAUSE IT WORKS. I’M NOT CRITICAL OF ALL ELECTED SUPERINTENDENTS. MANY DO A SUPERB JOB. BUT THE VERY NATURE OF A POLITICAL OFFICE LIMITS THE POOL OF APPLICANTS FOR THIS IMPORTANT JOB TO ONE DISTRICT AND SOMETIMES ONLY A FEW CANDIDATES. IT WOULD BE SIMILAR TO SELECTING THE CHANCELLOR OF OLE MISS ONLY FROM APPLICANTS IN AUTREY. PRESIDENT OF MISSISSIPPI VALLEY FROM ONLY THOSE LIVING IN ITTA BENA. NOW, I REALIZE WE SHOULD NOT REMOVE ANY ELECTED SUPERINTENDENT FROM OFFICE. BUT WE CAN WORK THROUGH THOSE ISSUES AND FIND A BETTER PATH FORWARD. WE SHOULD ELECT OUR SCHOOL BOARDS AND ALLOW THEM TO APPOINT THE DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS. [ APPLAUSE ] IN MY INAUGURAL ADDRESS I ASKED YOU TO IMAGINE A MISSISSIPPI WHERE SCHOOLS COMPETED FOR STUDENTS. WHERE CLASSROOMS WERE DESIGNED FOR THE STUDENTS’ SUCCESS. WHERE PARENTS AND STUDENTS COULD CHOOSE THE SCHOOL THEY DESIRED TO ATTEND. JUST IMAGINE IF PARENTS COULD TAKE THEIR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS AND SEND THEIR CHILD TO A SCHOOL OF THEIR CHOICE. [ APPLAUSE ] IMAGINE THE FREEDOM OF A PARENT AND A FAILING SCHOOL TO SEND AN AT-RISK JOB TO A SUPERIOR SCHOOL NEARBY BUT OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT. WHY SHOULD ONLY THE AFFLUENT ENJOY THE BENEFITS OF THESE FINE SCHOOLS? YOUR ZIP CODE OR INCOME LEVEL SHOULD NOT DETERMINE YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO GET A GOOD EDUCATION IN MISSISSIPPI. [ APPLAUSE ] LET US MAKE THIS BOLD DECISION AND GIVE THESE CHILDREN HOPE! WE SHOULD ALSO REMOVE THE BARRIERS TO CHARTER SCHOOLS AND EXTEND THEIR RANGE ACROSS DISTRICT LINES SO CHILDREN CAN PASS THROUGH THESE IMAGINARY WALLS TO A BETTER, BRIGHTER FUTURE. I’LL ASK YOU TONIGHT TO LET THEM HAVE THIS FREEDOM AND TEAR DOWN THESE WALLS. WE CAN MAKE PROGRESS IN HIGHER EDUCATION BY WORKING WITH THE INSTITUTION OF HIGHER EARNING AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARDS TO CRAFT AN ASSOCIATES DEGREE CREDENTIAL FOR THOSE STUDENTS WHO COMPLETE THE NECESSARY NUMBER OF SCHOLASTIC HOURS AT A FOUR-YEAR UNIVERSITY. FOR EXAMPLE, IF A STUDENT ATTENDED A UNIVERSITY FOR TWO YEARS AND COMPLETED THE REQUIRED COURSEWORK BUT HAD TO LEAVE THE UNIVERSITY FOR A LEGITIMATE REASON, THEY COULD RECEIVE AN ASSOCIATES DEGREE RELATED TO THEIR SUBJECT MAJOR. SEVERAL OTHER STATES THIS HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL, AND IT CAN BE HERE AS WELL. OF COURSE, WE WOULD NEED TO REQUEST THE PROPER APPROVAL FROM THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES BEFORE MOVING FORWARD. I BELIEVE WE SHOULD ALLOW THESE STUDENTS WHO HAVE TO LEAVE COLLEGE BECAUSE OF THE UNFORESEEN DEMANDS OF LIFE TO RECEIVE SOME CREDENTIALS THAT HELP THEM BEGIN THEIR CAREER. [ APPLAUSE ] LONG AGO I DECLARED THIS STATE MUST ADD 1,000 NEW POSITIONS BY THE YEAR 2025. THE COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC UNIVERSITY AND THE NEW MEDICAL SCHOOL BEING CONSTRUCTED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER, WE ARE WELL ON OUR WAY TO OUR GOAL. THE SESSION YOU HAVE BEFORE YOU PHYSICIANS COMPACT BILL THAT WILL ALLOW MISSISSIPPI TO JOIN OTHER STATES AND ACCEPT A MEDICAL LICENSE FROM ANY OF THE COMPACT STATES. A PHYSICIAN FROM ALABAMA WHO MOVED TO MISSISSIPPI, AND IS LICENSED TO PRACTICE MEDICINE WOULD BE ACCEPTED BY THE MISSISSIPPI BOARD OF MEDICAL LICENSURE. THIS RECIPROCITY JUST MAY RESULT IN PHYSICIANS RELOCATING TO MISSISSIPPI FROM A NUMBER OF STATES. THIS IS BEING LED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MISSISSIPPI STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION AND THE MISSISSIPPI HEALTH CARE SOLUTIONS INSTITUTE. IT IS RECEIVED SUPPORT OF THE MISSISSIPPI BOARD OF MEDICAL LIE CENTERS LED BY OUR VERY OWN DR. VIRGINIA CRAWFORD. PLEASE JOIN ME IN THANKING BOTH OF THEM FOR THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS TO OUR STATE’S MEDICAL PROFESSION. [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU. A GREAT DEAL OF EFFORT HAS GONE INTO A TRANSPORTATION PLAN DEVELOPED BY THE MISSISSIPPI ECONOMIC COUNCIL. OUR STATE’S CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. THIS INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS OF OUR HIGHWAYS AND BRIDGES WAS NOT LEFT TO A GOVERNMENT AGENCY, BUT TO A GROUP OF BUSINESS LEADERS. THE MAN STEERING THIS NOBLE EFFORT IS NOT IN THE ASPHALT OR SEMENT OR CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS. HE IS ONE OF OUR STATE’S MOST RESPECTED INDUSTRIALISTS. AND HIS COMPANY IS A NATIONAL LEADER IN THE POULTRY BUSINESS. HE IS A PHILANTHROPIST AND SPONSOR OF THE SANDERSON’S FARM PGA GOLF TOURNAMENT. HE IS WITH US TONE. WE SHOULD ALL THANK MY FRIEND JOE SANDERSON. JOE, THANK YOU. [ APPLAUSE ] SO NOW WE HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE. HOW DO WE GENERATE SUFFICIENT REVENUES TO MAINTAIN AND KEEP SAFE THE ROADS AND BRIDGES THAT ARE OUR ECONOMIC LIFELINE AND NOT PLACE AN UNDUE BURDEN UPON THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THIS STATE? BOTH JOE AND I HAVE OFFERED A RECOMMENDATION. THERE’S NO REASON WE CANNOT BALANCE AN INCREASE IN FUEL TAX IF THERE IS ONE WITH AN EQUAL AND SUFFICIENT TAX REDUCTION. THIS TAX CUT DOES NOT NEED TO APPLY TO LARGE CORPORATIONS. THEY ARE AND HAVE BEEN RECEIVING THE REDUCTION IN FUEL COST FOR SOME TIME NOW. IT IS THE WORKING FAMILIES IN MISSISSIPPI I AM CONCERNED ABOUT. I HAVE FULL CONFIDENT IN YOUR ABILITY TO FIND COMMON GROUND. I WILL WORK WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP TO HELP DO SO BEFORE THIS SESSION’S END. I WOULD BE REMISS IF I DID NOT MENTION THE 11 PEOPLE IN NORTH MISSISSIPPI, THE 11 MISSISSIPPIANS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE TORNADOS OF DECEMBER 23RD. OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH ALL THOSE AFFECTED BY THOSE TERRIBLE STORMS THAT STRUCK JUST TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. I DIRECTED THE MISSISSIPPI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY TO HELP THOSE THAT ARE STILL IN NEED. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY FOR ITS QUICK ACTION IN DECLARING THE AFFECTED COUNTIES A FEDERAL DISASTER AREA. I ALSO SINCERELY AM THANKFUL TO THE CHURCHES AND VOLUNTEER ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE PROVIDED AID AND COMFORT AND ARE DOING SO AS WE SPEAK. WE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL TO THEM ALL. [ APPLAUSE ] THANK YOU TO ALL FOR WORKING HARD TONIGHT. THERE ARE THOSE THAT ARE SUFFERED SO MUCH. GOD BLESS YOU ALL. [ APPLAUSE ] IN CLOSING, I ENCOURAGE US ALL TO REFLECT UPON THE WORDS OF KING SOLOMON AND HIS PRAYER. THE WISEST KING WROTE I AM BUT A LITTLE CHILD. I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO COME OUT OR GO IN. GIVE YOUR SERVANT O LORD THEREFORE AN UNDERSTANDING SERVANT TO GOVERN YOUR PEOPLE THAT I MIGHT DISCERN BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. MAY WE ALL HAVE SUCH A PRAYER IN OUR HEARTS AS WE MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU. GOD BLESS MISSISSIPPI. GOD BLESS THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. [ APPLAUSE ] [ APPLAUSE ]>>THANK YOU. AS THIS POINT ASSEMBLY COMES TO A CLOSE I WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE THE GENTLEMAN FROM HOLMES TO DISSOLVE THE JOINT SESSION.>>MR. PRESIDENT I MOVE THAT THIS JOINT ASSEMBLY BE DISSOLVED.>>LADIES AND GENTLEMEN YOU HAVE HEARD THE MOTION THERE THE GENTLE MAN FROM HOLMES THAT THIS JOINT ASSEMBLY BE DISSOLVED. ALL THOSE IN FAVOR PLEASE SIGNIFY BY SAYING AYE. ALL THOSE OPPOSED SAY NO. THE AYES CLEARLY HAVE IT. THIS JOINT ASSEMBLY IS NOW DISSOLVED.>>AND NOW THE DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE.>>I HAVE THREE POINTS TO MAKE. I THINK I CAN DO THEM IN ABOUT THREE MINUTES. PLEASE HEAR ME OUT. I’M HERE TO TALK ON BEHAFR OF THE DEMOCRATS IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE. WE UNDERSTAND THE REPUBLICANS HAVE MOST OF THE SEATS IN THE LEGISLATURE AND TO A LARGE EXTENT THEY CAN DO PRETTY MUCH WHAT THEY WANT TO. BUT WE DON’T THINK OUR ROLE IS TO COME DOWN HERE AND HAVE FOUR YEARS OF PARTISAN BICKERING. WE THINK WE SHOULD WORK TOGETHER TO DO WHAT’S IN THE BEST INTEREST OF EVERYBODY IN THE STATE. AND WE THINK THAT’S WHAT FOLKS EXPECT US TO DO. WE DON’T THINK THE REPUBLICANS ARE WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING, AND WE DON’T THINK THE DEMOCRATS ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING. BUT THERE ARE PLENTY OF ISSUES THAT I’D LIKE TO MENTION TO YOU. THE FIRST IS PUBLIC EDUCATION. FOREVER THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI HAS SENT MONEY TO LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO TRY TO HELP THEM EDUCATE CHILDREN. RIGHT NOW THE FORMULA WE USE IS CALLED THE MISSISSIPPI ADEQUATE EDUCATION PROGRAM. THIS WAS ADOPTED IN THE 1990S. HAD TWO-THIRDS OF THE VOTES IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE. IT WAS A BIPARTISAN EFFORT AND IT’S THE LAW. BUT OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS THE REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN UNDER FUNDING THIS FORMULA BY HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR. THAT MEANS YOUR SCHOOLS, YOUR LOCAL SCHOOLS, HAD TO CUT BACK. THEY’VE HAD TO DO WITHOUT THE NUMBER OF TEACHERS THEY NEED. THEY’VE DONE WITHOUT IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS AND OF COURSE AS YOU KNOW THEY’VE HAD TO RAISE PROPERTY TAXES JUST TRYING TO KEEP THINGS TOGETHER. OUR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS ARE WORKING. THEY’RE WORKING HARD. THE LEGISLATURE NEEDS TO DO RIGHT. WE NEED TO GIVE THE LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THE LAW SAYS THEY’RE ENTITLED TO SO THEY CAN EDUCATE CHILDREN PROPERLY. AND OUR UNIVERSITIES AND COMMUNITY COLLEGES NEED HELP, TOO. COMMUNITY COLLEGE IS WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO GO AND GET A REALLY GOOD EDUCATION AT A REALLY INEXPENSIVE PRICE. AND OUR UNIVERSITIES, TUITION HAS GOTTEN SO HIGH THAT IT’S DIFFICULT FOR MANY PEOPLE TO AFFORD COLLEGE. WE NEED TO DO RIGHT BY EDUCATION AND WE NEED TO DO RIGHT BY OUR CHILDREN. SECONDLY, THERE’S OUR STATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM. IT’S WORTH $20 BILLION TO $25 BILLION. BUT WE’RE NOT EVEN PUTTING ENOUGH MONEY INTO YOUR STATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM TO MAINTAIN THE ROADS AND BRIDGES THAT WE HAVE. WE NEED TO KEEP SAFE ROADS, SAFE BRIDGES AND THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT WHICH LEADS TO JOBS. NO RATIONAL PERSON WOULD LET AN ASSET OF 20 TO $25 BILLION DETERIORATE JUST FOR FAILURE TO MAINTAIN IT. WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO MAINTAIN OUR ROADS AND BRIDGES. BOTH OF THESE THINGS COST MONEY WHICH, OF COURSE, LEADS ME TO MY THIRD POINT. WE JUST CAN’T AFFORD THESE HUGE TAX CUTS THAT THE REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN PASSING. THEY’VE PASSED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN TAX CUTS TO DO THINGS LIKE REIMBURSE WAL-MART AND OTHER FOLKS FOR THEIR PROPERTY TAXES. THEY’RE REIMBURSING OUT OF STATE OIL COMPANIES FOR THEIR PROPERTY TAXES. THEY’VE GIVEN YOUR MONEY TO GO TO DEVELOPERS TO BUILD SHOPPING CENTERS IN SUBURBAN JACKSON. THEY’VE EVEN GONE SO FAR AS TO CUT TAXES ON WHISKEY. NOW LOOK, I’M THE AUTHOR OF THE STATEST SINGLE TAX CUT IN RECENT HISTORY. IT WAS AN INCOME TAX CUT TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES. IT WAS A TIME THAT WE COULD AFFORD A TAX CUT. WE JUST DON’T HAVE THE MONEY FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF HUGE TAX CUTS. JUST A COUPLE WEEKS AGO THE GOVERNOR HAD TO CUT BUDGETS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE YEAR, CUTTING EDUCATION AND OTHER VITAL SERVICES. OUR TAX COLLECTIONS WERE DOWN. OUR ECONOMY IS IMPROVING BUT BECAUSE OF THE TAX CUTS, WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO FUND BASIC CORE FUNCTIONS OF STATE GOVERNMENT. WE THINK THAT THESE ARE THREE VERY SENSIBLE PROPOSITIONS. LET’S PROPERLY FUND EDUCATION. LET’S TAKE CARE OF OUR HIGHWAYS ROADS AND BRIDGES AND LET’S NOT HAVE ANOTHER ROUND OF HUGE SPECIAL INTEREST TAX CUTS THAT WE JUST CAN’T AFFORD. HELP US WORK TOGETHER WITH EVERYONE TO BRING THIS ABOUT. JUST LIKE THE REPUBLICANS ARE NOT ALWAYS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING, THEY’RE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING EITHER. BIT MORE THAN THREE MINUTES, BUT I TRIED. THANKS FOR LISTENING.>>YOU’VE HEARD BOTH SIDES. NOW IT’S UP TO LAWMAKERS TO DECIDE HOW TO RESPOND. WATCH “AT ISSUE” WHERE WE PROVIDE COVERAGE AND OFFER ANALYSIS. TUNE IN FRIDAYS AT 7:30.

Author: Kevin Mason

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