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a publication centered on life in Mississippi.
Today is February 16, 2020

Q&A w/Gov/ Lt. Gov./ Speaker

Q&A with Governor Tate Reeves

 

Q: What are the key responsibilities of the Governor?

A: The Governor of Mississippi is responsible for setting the direction of our great state and creating opportunities for our people to succeed. As Governor, one of my top priorities will be job creation — bringing better and higher-paying jobs to our state so people can stay here in Mississippi to start careers and provide for their families. More people are working in Mississippi than ever before, and I want everyone in Mississippi to have the chance to work an honest job for good pay.

 

Q: What were some of your major accomplishments as Lieutenant Governor?

A: Today in Mississippi, our economy has grown by almost $10 billion dollars in the eight years I’ve served as Lieutenant Governor. Our economy is on the rise. There are more good-paying jobs than ever before. There are more people working than ever before. It used to be that we had more people than jobs. Now we have more jobs than people. 

And that is due in large part to the public policies passed by conservative leadership, including the largest tax cut in Mississippi history that we passed. In the 2019 fiscal year, we collected over $300 million more in revenue than was originally estimated. Instead of raising taxes, we created more taxpayers, helping Mississippi businesses grow and attracting new businesses to our state to create more high-paying jobs.

We have also seen significant improvements in students’ outcomes and public schools over the last eight years, thanks to the education reform efforts of conservative leadership and, most importantly, to the students, teachers and parents working hard to make it a reality. We have the highest high school graduation rate than at any time in our state’s history right now, beating the national average. We have a nationally recognized prekindergarten program that brings together the private and public sectors to address community needs.

Mississippi is now leading the nation in educational gains. In the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, our students outperformed every other state in 4th-grade reading and math results and are ranked third and fourth for gains in 8th-grade math and reading, respectively. We have our education system pointed in the right direction, and my goal is to build on that success. 

 

Q: What major issues do you plan to address as Governor?

A: Work is changing. The jobs that paid well 50 years ago are not as strong today, and skilled trades are soaring. We need the next generation of Mississippi workers to be equipped to take on any job. With the right training, they can. I plan to invest more in helping local communities be certified as “work ready,” incentivizing high school graduates to earn industry credentials so they are prepared on the first day of their new career and continuing to help our community colleges modernize their workforce training capabilities. We also have to combine that with efforts to help working families get on their feet by addressing issues of childcare and transportation.

We must also address access to quality healthcare and continuing to improve our healthcare system. Just having more doctors isn’t enough; we need to get them to rural areas. That’s why I support increasing the number and expanding the geographic presence of medical residencies and embracing innovation through telemedicine. Even more specifically for hospitals — I support giving tax incentives to businesses that want to contribute to struggling facilities, as well as incentive packages to attract new doctors to our state.

 

Q: Electric power associations serve 1.8 million Mississippians. How important is the role of these associations?

A: Electric power associations are critical to building a successful economic development program and providing for a majority of our state’s population. Without the strong partnership by electric power associations, the legislature, the governor and the Mississippi Development Authority would have a difficult time recruiting new businesses to the state. When companies look to Mississippi, they want a strong workforce, a reliable power source and room to grow.

These associations also provide important services within the communities themselves and for the future of Mississippi. I have spoken to their Youth Leadership Program a few times throughout my time as Lieutenant Governor and seen firsthand the inspiring work they do training our future leaders.

 

Q&A with Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann

 

Q: What are the main duties of Lieutenant Governor, and how do you view your role in state government?

A: The Lieutenant Governor is in very close proximity to the budget and policy, so it is a pivotal role in terms of setting the state’s priorities. He or she presides over the Senate, selects chairmen and chairwomen of committees and appoints various Mississippians to boards and commissions. I take these responsibilities very seriously, and I am grateful for the confidence Mississippians have instilled in me to do the job.

 

Q: What do you see as top priorities for the upcoming 2020 legislative session?

A: We have many challenges in Mississippi, including ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education, shoring up our infrastructure, making healthcare more accessible and affordable, growing our economy and supporting our small businesses. At a minimum, we must ensure our teachers and other state employees, including our correctional officers and social workers, are fairly compensated at a level that creates more stability in state government.

 

Q: What major accomplishments are you proud of as Secretary of State?

A: When I ran for Secretary of State, one of my major goals was to make sure 16th Section land, which supports our public schools, was leased for fair market value as required by law. When we left office in January, we had raised $1 billion for public schools. I am really proud of this accomplishment.

We also revolutionized the process of starting a business in Mississippi by lowering filing fees and automating legal requirements and launching our one-of-a-kind website, Y’all Business, www.yallbusiness.com. Providing free demographic and consumer information, Y’all Business helps economic developers sell their communities to new industry and allows entrepreneurs to gather free information to launch a successful business.

Finally, we made the security of our elections a priority by enacting a constitutional Voter ID law and dramatically increasing cybersecurity at the local and state levels. While other states are still defending lawsuits related to Voter ID, Mississippi’s law remains effective and unchallenged in court.

 

Q: Electric power associations serve 1.8 million Mississippians. How important is the role of these associations?

A: Our electric power associations are providing electricity, a critical part of our economy and daily life, to more than half of the citizens of Mississippi. Every opportunity for economic development in your served area, now including broadband under the new law, begins with electric power associations. Furthermore, these associations carry out this role in a truly democratic way — through an organization that allows members and owners to weigh in on the operation. We look forward to working with our electric power associations in the coming years.

 

Q&A with Speaker of the House Philip Gunn

 

Q: What are some of the major accomplishments during your time as Speaker of the House of Representatives?
A: Over the last eight years, the Republican-led legislature has:

    •    Put forth a Road and Bridge Plan that will invest between $120-150 million into roads and bridges every year from now on. This plan took money that we already have and rededicated it to Mississippi’s roads and bridges. Cities and counties now have a continuing source of revenue to maintain progress in fixing our roads and bridges. In addition, we’ve injected an additional $250 million into local bridges to address immediate problems.

    •    Passed SB2347, commonly known as the “Third Grade Reading Gate.” Before this measure, our students were only reading at a 69 percent grade level. Today, the grade level exceeds 90 percent. We have done more to improve reading in Mississippi than has ever been done before. Overall, we’ve increased the amount of education funding over $2.5 billion – the most in the history of our state. Just to name one of the many benefits of this funding, graduation rates have increased  by 11 percent, putting Mississippi at the national average.

    •    Balanced the state’s budget. We pledged to not spend more money than you give us and will continue to do so. Because of this, we’ve had to make some tough decisions; but by following this conservative approach, Mississippi today is in the best financial condition it has seen in years. We now have a balanced budget, have fixed retirement and have given pay raises to both state employees and teachers. The Republican-led legislature has been good stewards of your money, and tax cuts have not affected our ability to run this state.

    •    Passed the most comprehensive Anti-Human Trafficking legislation in the country with HB571. This bill has been called model legislation for other states to follow by the most reputable advocacy organization in the United States.

 

Q: What are some key issues in the 2020 legislative session?
A: A few priorities will be to focus on workforce development and Brain Drain, we also have funding of K-12 and community colleges tied up in that, which circles back to job creation – which I believe is a top priority for many Mississippians. Other issues on the horizon include various healthcare issues that need to be addressed, education, infrastructure and MDOC among others.

 

Q: What are your legislative priorities for this session?
A: In the 2020 legislative session, the goal of the Mississippi House of Representatives is to continue to build on these past achievements and to push the needle forward, as far as we can, in order to make Mississippi the best it can be for all the people of this great state.

 

Q: Electric cooperatives serve 1.8 million Mississippians. How important is the role of these associations?
A: The importance of Mississippi’s electric power associations cannot be overstated. I have been privileged to observe firsthand how they meet the needs of their customers. I witnessed how these cooperatives handled the fallout from Hurricane Katrina, the greatest natural disaster our state has ever seen, and from various ice storms and tornados that have struck the region over the years. In each situation, these associations responded with speed and efficiency to restore service while at the same time demonstrating real compassion and concern for the plight of their customers. We are extremely fortunate, indeed, to have such quality people serve in our state’s electric power associations.

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