January 23, 2013 9:39:19 AM
Jeff Clark - [email protected]
Gov. Phil Bryant, in his 2013 State of the State address made during a special joint-session of the state's legislators, chose job creation, education and health care as his major talking points. On the subject of job creation and industry, Bryant used the speech as an opportunity to stump for his delayed-accelerated tax payment proposal.
"As all of you understand, Mississippi's business climate plays a critical role in attracting new opportunities and new jobs to our state," Bryant said. "In my executive budget recommendation, I proposed a small business tax relief measure that will further stabilize our business climate. Each June, certain small employers in this state are required to pre-pay a portion of their taxes. This move puts a large burden on our state's job creators. My budget proposes relief for small employers, and I urge the Legislature to support it. The National Federation of Independent Businesses joins me in my call."
While Bryant's pledge to block President Barack Obama's executive orders on gun control in the state was noticeably absent from the address, he did touch upon the need for the state to develop an energy policy.
"We should also look to our energy sector for growth and job opportunities," he said. "Mississippi is a leader in many energy related policies and industry practices. By supporting energy development and investment, we can bring more jobs to our residents. As chair of the Southern States Energy Board, I will work hard to make sure Mississippi is positioned as a leader in the energy economy."
After the address, Senate Pro Tempore Terry Brown, R-Columbus, praised the state's top Republican for his efforts.
"I thought he did a good job," Brown said. "The focus was on job creation, which we are all about. I think he did a good job of articulating what we are trying to do with the charter school bill. He wants to create an energy policy, which is something we badly need."
With an expanded charter school bill expected to be voted on in the House this week, Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, criticized Bryant over his public support for the bill.
"I anticipated most of what he said," Ellis said. "There weren't any surprises -- it was all part of the script. If politicians want to do something about education reform, they need to start where we are. No one really wants to talk about the antiquated system we have. I'm really appalled no one is saying anything about this. If we allowed the Department of Education to put forth a plan, I think we would be doing better than where we are now. We need to sit down and take the gloves off and have a real discussion about education, but I don't see that happening."
Bryant also pledged to continue his fight over federally-mandated health care during the address.
"Let me be clear -- any law that will add 300,000 Mississippians to a federal entitlement program partially funded by the state will either result in a huge tax increase or drastic cuts to education, public safety, job creation and other budgets," Bryant said. "It will leave our children and grandchildren with ballooning federal debt. The research company Milliman analyzed the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact on Mississippi. They determined that if Mississippi fully expands Medicaid, our state will spend more than $12 billion on the program between 2014 and 2020. These numbers are staggering."