• Jobs, Economic Prosperity, Education and Responsible Budgeting Dominate Gov. Bryant’s Second State of the State Address

    Speech Includes Announcement of New Ashley Furniture Facility in Verona

    JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant’s second State of the State Address outlined a number of goals, calling for education and health care improvements, job growth and additional economic development efforts, and the importance of a responsible budget.

    During the annual speech to the Legislature, Gov. Bryant announced that Ashley Furniture, a major Mississippi employer, will create 60 new jobs when it locates manufacturing and customer service operations in Verona, Miss.

    “Ashley Furniture is a leading employer in Mississippi and I appreciate their confidence in our state and workforce,” Gov. Bryant said.

    The governor reported during his address that the past year was a good one for Mississippi.

    “I have said many times that I believe the 2012 legislative session will be known as the most business-friendly session in modern history. Already by working together with the Mississippi Development Authority, we have announced nearly 2,700 new jobs and a private sector investment totaling more than a half-billion dollars. Now as we look to the new year, we will be just as aggressive.”

    Gov. Bryant stressed the importance of a successful public education system to Mississippi’s economic development efforts, saying, “There is one definitive way we can make sure that our workforce will remain competitive: we must improve our public education system.”

    Gov. Bryant’s “Education Works” agenda addresses some of Mississippi’s most pressing public education needs.

    “My education agenda was created in collaboration with education leaders, teachers and researchers. It sets a clear path to success and will invigorate our public education system so our children graduate high school ready to make the most of the opportunities that follow,” Gov. Bryant said.

    Five key areas of “Education Works” include:

    • Improving literacy skills and ending status-quo social promotion policies;
    • Developing and rewarding teacher quality;
    • Continuing early childhood education efforts;
    • Increasing school choice; and
    • Improving college and career readiness.

    Gov. Bryant’s plan includes third- and seventh-grade promotion policies that require students to be proficient in reading and math. Bryant’s agenda also focuses on attracting top Mississippi students to teaching positions and rewarding high-performing teachers with salary increases. He also proposed increasing entrance standards for teaching programs and offering scholarships to top high school and college students who want to pursue a career in education.

    Gov. Bryant believes parents deserve the right to seek better opportunities for their children, and his proposals put value on school choice.

    “Not only should we endeavor to pass a workable public charter school bill to give our children one more opportunity to succeed, we must also give parents the option to request their child be transferred to another school through the implementation of statewide open enrollment policies. My agenda further empowers parents by designating privately funded opportunity scholarships for low-income families in D and F schools. Parents can use these programs to send their child to a school that better meets their needs.”

    As part of his focus on strengthening Mississippi’s health and its economy through developing the state’s medical industry, Gov. Bryant announced the formation of the Mississippi Health Care Solutions Institute. The governor named Dr. Clay Hays, a respected cardiologist and former chairman of the Greater Jackson Area Chamber, as the Institute’s first chair.

    “This Institute will serve as a chamber of commerce for health care, bringing our medical industry together and supporting health care as an economic driver in our state,” Gov. Bryant said.

    Gov. Bryant further discussed the importance of a responsible budget, calling for the Legislature to again follow the advice of his Executive Budget Recommendation and spend no more than 98 percent of General Fund revenues.

    He also urged lawmakers to follow his funding recommendations for critical government functions like public safety and economic development when crafting the state’s budget this legislative session.

    “I served as lieutenant governor during the beginning of the financial crisis and had to make tough choices to cut more than $100 million from state government. However, public safety and economic development are essential functions of our government, and they should be treated as such.”

    Bryant also urged lawmakers to strengthen Mississippi’s business climate by stabilizing tax policies for small job creators.

    “Each June, certain small employers in this state are required to pre-pay a portion of their taxes,” Gov. Bryant said. “Known as the delayed-accelerated tax payment, 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.”

    Gov. Bryant concluded his remarks by pledging to work with lawmakers to create good policy for Mississippi.

    “Work in good faith with me on items both easy and hard, and I will pledge to you to do the same.”

    Click here to read Governor Bryant’s State of the State address.


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