Bryant lays out policy proposals in State of the State

JACKSON — Republican Gov. Phil Bryant used his first State of the State address last evening to unveil detailed policy proposals, from education to healthcare to energy, saying he wants to create a “Mississippi Works Agenda.”

“My first job is to make sure every Mississippian has a job,” Bryant said on the south steps of the state Capitol, using the platform that was built for his inauguration two weeks ago. The Jan. 10 inaugural ceremonies moved inside the House chamber because of rain.

“To the taxpayers who are here today, let me express my humble appreciation,” Bryant told an estimated 400 to 500 people on the Capitol grounds and a statewide television audience. “You are the sovereigns of this government, and we here are your servants.”

Bryant called for development of charter schools and advocated performance pay for teachers based on student achievement. He said the state should encourage dual enrollment for high school students who might be at risk of dropping out of school, allowing them to learn vocational skills at community colleges.

“We will work to give these young adults a marketable skill and help them find jobs,” Bryant said. “I will ask the state Department of Education, the community colleges and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security to come together to implement this program. We should set an enrollment goal and get to work, so Mississippians can go to work.”

On healthcare, Bryant proposed capping income tax for physicians in under-served areas and providing economic incentives to spur development of medical facilities.

On energy, he advocated offshore drilling for natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico and said he wants to begin converting state government’s fleet of vehicles to cars and trucks powered by natural gas.

Bryant said he would ask lawmakers to approve $31 million in job-creation incentives this year, though he didn’t name specific projects.

“Economic development is the sun in our universe and everything revolves around it,” Bryant said.

In a televised Democratic response, Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto said it’s time for elected officials to “stop grandstanding” about budgets and passing expenses down to local governments. He also said education should be a budget priority.

“We believe in our K-12 programs, community colleges and universities,” Moak said. “That’s why Democrats in the Legislature will not turn their backs on public education.”

Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature.

Bryant said he’s asking the Department of Human Services to develop a plan to reduce Mississippi’s teenage pregnancy rate, long one of the highest in the nation. He also asked lawmakers to pass a Republican-sponsored bill called the “Child Protection Act,” which would require health care providers, clergy members and educators to report suspected cases of child sexual abuse and would require anyone performing an abortion on a girl 14 or younger to keep samples of fetal tissue so DNA tests could be run to check whether the underage girl was impregnated by an adult.

“This will be the first step in identifying the predators who take underage girls to an abortion clinic to hide their crimes,” Bryant said.

He said there’s no reason for Mississippi to be the most obese state in the nation, and he urged people to take responsibility for their own well-being.

“Mississippians, walk, run, go to the gym, plant a garden or ride a bike,” he said. “Getting active is key to your own health care and I again intend to lead by example.”

Bryant, a runner, said he plans to sponsor a 5K run this summer, beginning at the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Jackson.

He encouraged parents to seek help for dyslexic children using existing state programs.

“As a child, I struggled with dyslexia and believed I was a failure until the fourth grade,” Bryant said. “I then had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Henley, explain to me I simply did not see the letters on the page like other children. I had to practice my reading and work hard to keep up, but I had a desire to succeed. I did what was expected of me and soon began to see the world of the written word, and in doing so, learned to love reading.”

Bryant briefly mentioned two topics he frequently discussed during the 2011 campaign — abortion and immigration.

He last year supported a “personhood” ballot initiative that would’ve declared life begins at fertilization, which was aimed at eventually eliminating abortion. The initiative was defeated amid concerns that it could limit the use of in-vitro fertilization.

“Please rest assured that I also have not abandoned my hope of making Mississippi abortion-free,” Bryant said. “I continue to believe that every life begins at conception and that every child should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Bryant in the past has supported Arizona-style proposals that would allow law enforcement officers to check people’s immigration status during encounters such as traffic stops. A bill that would’ve done that died in 2011 when the Mississippi House and Senate couldn’t agree on details.

“I strongly believe that we are a nation of laws rather than of men and that people who illegally cross our border, violating our federal laws, cannot be ignored,” Bryant said. “It is not only the state’s right but responsibility to determine if these violators are among our general population, particularly when they have also violated the criminal statutes of Mississippi.”

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One Response to “Bryant lays out policy proposals in State of the State”

  1. Your Brother Says:

    I forced myself to watched Obama’s speech last evening. You know the saying, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer,” We have a crisis in this country and Obama proposed nothing in the way of policy changes that will get us job creation or economic growth… or national security.

    All Obama did was described his conviction for big government with higher taxes. I know some think that this statement is political rhetoric… no it is not, it is the truth!

    Big government and higher taxes will not lead to jobs or growth. Big government and higher taxes will only lead to more people on food stamps and welfare. And the saddest part of this is Obama and the liberal democrats defend this as a fair outcome.

    We have to confront the truth about Obama. Economic growth and prosperity is not at the top of his agenda. He will always prefer a food stamp economy to a paycheck economy and call it fair. I call it ‘Socialism!”

    I was taught that it is by ones work that one distinguishes himself; do not love laziness or you will become poor; we will always have poor with us; we need to teach the poor, so they will know if anyone will not work they will not eat. If you think that this is harsh… do your research and check the source!

    Obama and a large part of this political class (which includes a lot of republicans), it’s about their power, their right to rule. They just want to take money from Joe the Plumber – the working people who makes over 90 per cent of the jobs — and redistribute it to the government bureaucracy and their political friends and allies. That’s why so much of that nearly trillion-dollar stimulus didn’t create jobs but just went into the pockets of special interests who support Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Socialist Party.

    No better example of this exists than in the crisis of American energy. Obama and his political allies – not of few of whom love living in energy inefficient houses or driving gas-guzzling luxury vehicles – openly admit they want gas prices (all gas has a 17% Fed. Tax!) to remain high so that the rest of America will learn to live more modestly. They think it’s good for rest of us. Only recently, the president canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline that would have created countless new jobs and helped America on the way to energy independence because he wanted to appease the far left of his party. And yet not a single word on the Keystone XL pipeline was spoken last night.

    To create jobs and growth in this country, we must start with dramatic tax reform that lowers taxes and maximizes capital investment and job creation. We need a “Flat Tax” so every one can pay their fair share. We must return to a dollar is as good as gold whose purchasing power is the same in thirty years as it is today. We must dramatically expand American energy production. We must have smarter regulation at the same time we abolish destructive and costly regulatory systems beginning with Obamacare, Dodd-Franks, and Sarbanes-Oxley. And, unlike the current administration, we must have faith in job creators.

    With these policies the state of the union will be much better. They will create an explosion in job creation and lead to robust economic growth and a return to prosperity. Furthermore, a paycheck economy will put us on a path to balanced budgets and paying down our national debt.

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