Looking to next year, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said he is particularly interested in looking at the economic interests for citizens and businesses, healthcare, and how to spend the $1.8 billion from the federal government coming from the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan.
When it comes to healthcare, Hosemann expressed concerns about accessibility for all Mississippians. He said it is imperative that every resident is able to get to an Emergency Room in time, if necessary.
“I just lost one of my real close friends from Holmes County who couldn’t get to an emergency room in time and died of a heart attack,” Hosemann told Y’all Politics.
The Lt. Governor said he anticipates hearings will be held over the next few months by Senate Chairmen Kevin Blackwell (R) and Hob Bryan (D) to ensure that legislation coming out of the 2022 session will make it appropriately available.
Hosemann said he believes the biggest obstacle going into 2022 will be the appropriation of federal dollars due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mississippi was issued up to $1.8 billion in federal response money. Hosemann said he plans to not use these funds only as one-time monies but in ways to benefit generation after generation. He would like to see two more generations benefiting from these dollars.
It will be a difficult task for lawmakers to appropriate the money in a way that has such a long-lasting impact.
“Can we educate our people sufficiently to have good paying jobs? Can we have our infrastructure available not just for the next year but for the next generation? Those will be challenges,” said Hosemann.
Hosemann said the urge to spend the money in a one-time fashion must be resisted by all those in office, including himself. He hopes to see in-depth planning once the regulations come down from the United States Treasury.
Meetings have already begun regarding tax reform, Hosemann said. It is of course an issue Speaker of the House Philip Gunn was very invested in this year in regards to phasing out the state income tax.
Overall, Hosemann and Gunn were in agreement that the 2021 Legislative session was a success.
The Lt. Governor said the funding lawmakers were able to put toward Mississippi’s education system as well as educators was a highlight for him. He said that is just one component of a huge economic development push.
“We spend a huge amount of money on education. The way I look at this, people talk about economic development packages. Well, the best economic development package we’ve got is a human brain,” said Hosemann. “So if we educate our children up to 18 or 21 or whatever their education level requires, when they go out they’ve got half a century of brain power going to work for you.”
The Legislature appropriated $103 million more to the Department of Education this year as well as a $1,000 raise for teachers, along with loan repayment programs up to $6,000 a year for teachers just starting out.
Hosemann said they are devoting state and federal dollars to ensure the state’s education system is where it needs to be.
“I think overall the session was good, we addressed a lot of issues. I was pleased with it,” said Hosemann.
Legislators also completed the Medicaid Tech bill, which Hosemann said he was happy with but would have liked to see the extension for care for postpartum women up to 12 months. He said those babies and mothers make up a large part of the program that need extended help.