Back in March, the Mississippi Business Journal queried business, industry, community and government leaders from across the state about the “big issues” they thought that the candidates for governor needed to address this campaign season. We wanted to know what it would take for the business community to support a candidate.
Here’s a reminder of what we found:
• What is the governor’s role in economic development? “Bully pulpit” is not an answer.
• Have an outline for economic development. Don’t just say you’re for it. What are you going to do about it?
• Casinos are exercising more and more political clout. Are we overemphasizing those jobs to the detriment of others — and our environment?
• What is the role of education in economic development?
• Why do we place so much emphasis on “attracting” business and industry and not on “growing” business and industry? We need to look at how to develop the entrepreneurial and creative business skills of our people. That will allow us to create jobs, grow our economy and increase the wealth of our people — not just work for and create wealth for out-of-state corporations.
• What changes need to be made at the Department of Economic and Community Development?
• How can Mississippi translate its recent economic success into concrete investment in the economic infrastructure of the state to ensure that we enjoy that same prosperity, on an increased level, in the future?
Few of these questions, if any, have been explored by the major Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates. Instead, most have stuck to tried-and-true pablum or tossed out fanciful delusions that play well on the evening news. They’ve said they’re for paying our teachers more. Several have advocated a measly — and meaningless — 10% state income tax cut, which is on the agenda for a late-July legislative special session. They want to eliminate the sales tax on your groceries. One wants to land a NASCAR event for Mississippi.
Ho hum, does any of it surprise you? It shouldn’t. We’ve heard it all before; politics as usual.
Time is running out. Before you cast your vote Aug. 3, make sure you know which candidate will represent the business community’s interests the best, understands the challenges that our economy faces and who will fight to keep the “Mississippi Miracle” alive.