Governor Tate Reeves was the final speaker at this year’s 2021 Neshoba County Fair political speeches.
Governor Reeves provided his full remarks from the fair. They are below:
Thank you! It’s great to be back at the Neshoba County Fair! Man, I sure did miss y’all. Elee and I are thrilled to be with y’all today. You know, they say you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. Well, that’s not true when it comes to the Neshoba County Fair!
I realize EXACTLY how much I missed this Fair, how important it is to Mississippi, and how much we wanted to be here last year!
Let’s be honest… It’s been a long, hard year and half, and we’ve faced challenges that were never seen before. Dating back to 1972, the most federally declared disasters Mississippi has ever had in any one year is four. Since I’ve been Governor, we’ve had 13.
But despite it all….Mississippi stood strong!
We sacrificed. We helped our fellow Mississippians in their time of need. We proved why Mississippi is called the Hospitality State.
I have never been prouder to be a Mississippian. God willing, the Fair will never be canceled again. God willing, we’ll never have to encounter another pandemic again. But if we do, there’s no place I’d rather be than right here in Mississippi.
Thank you for everything you’ve done over the last year and a half.
And one place in the last year where we showed the rest of America the way was EDUCATION.
You heard me right. Mississippi led the entire nation in education.
While teachers in some other states kept kids chained to laptops or cell phones and pretended it was school…..Mississippi insisted on in-person instruction.
Other states said “we can’t” but Mississippi teachers said “we can.”
They did it. And their efforts are paying dividends. Mississippi was recently ranked first in the nation for fourth grade reading improvements over the last three years. Mississippi recently ranked first in the nation in fourth grade math improvements over the last three years.
The Biden administration loves to throw around the term “equity.” Well, in Mississippi, both black and white students from low-income homes have achieved higher scores than the national average in all four NAEP subjects. Our teachers knew that we could not afford to give up our momentum. They knew our kids had to get all the instruction we could give them.
I have never been prouder to be a Mississippian.
A year ago, I spent much of the summer working with our education and health care experts to figure out how we could go back to school. I spent almost every weekday in July urging local school districts to get on board and make a plan to go back as much as possible.
Mississippi’s schools responded. And I believe merit must be rewarded. That is why today I am calling for another pay raise for our teachers. They earned it in the pandemic. They are committed to moving our kids ahead.
All of you know that I am a strong fiscal conservative. Spending tax money on new things is not in my nature. But educational attainment is my priority. And it would be wrong for us to not demonstrate that we appreciate that Mississippi teachers out-did the rest of America during COVID.
Now the local media likes to tell you that we are last in teacher pay, but sometimes I think they take pleasure in running Mississippi down. That claim is simply not accurate.
Right now, Mississippi ranks 37th in teacher pay when adjusted for cost of living. That is not last. But that is still not good enough. Y’all, we can do better.
So, today, I’m proposing an immediate $1,300 across-the-board teacher pay raise followed by $1,000 per year in each of the next two fiscal years. This additional $3,300 pay raise will result in Mississippi going from 37th nationally to 21st, and 4th in the southeast, and help us attract the top-tier educators that our children deserve.
That will make sure that any teacher who wants to be in Mississippi can afford to teach in Mississippi.
Passing this teacher pay raise is going to be a priority for me – and I hope it will be a priority for you.
Critical Race Theory
And speaking of education let’s talk about the latest dumb idea coming from the east and west coasts – Critical Race Theory.
I swear, some of these Ivy League Liberals are some of the dumbest, smart people out there. In what world are we living in where it’s ok to teach children that they’re born racist? In what world is it ok to teach children that they’ll be judged by the color of their skin, not the content of their character?
That is not the education we need for the next generation of America’s leaders, but sadly it is now the unofficial policy of the national Democratic Party. Our kids should be learning “STEM education,” not Dem education.
They should be learning the truth about the United States – that it’s the greatest nation in the history of mankind.
I’m committed to ensuring that Critical Race Theory is kept out of our Mississippi schools.
Additionally, I will once again be proposing in my Executive Budget Recommendation that we appropriate funding towards a Patriotic Education Fund that “educates the next generation in the incredible accomplishments of the American Way.”
Unfortunately, last session, the Legislature decided to not to appropriate money for Patriotic Education. This session, I hope they do.
Economy/Income Tax Elimination/Tax Swap
We also need to talk about another group of heroes in our pandemic – the job-makers.
In spite of a global recession, Mississippi’s economy has thrived. We saw $1.9 billion in capital investment. To put that in perspective, in the previous 10 years, before I was elected Governor, Mississippi had an average of only $900 million per year in capital investment.
A major reason for that investment is because of you, our workforce. You attracted that investment. You created those jobs. You really are second to none, and I’m committed to investing in you. My administration will continue to invest in workforce development, so all Mississippians have the skills they need to succeed.
Our economic growth was good for state government, too.
Mississippi ended the year $1 billion over revenue estimates. This is because while the rest of the country shut down, we re-opened.
Unlike states run by Democrats, Mississippi was one of the first to reopen, and one of the fastest to lift pandemic mandates.
Now I was proud to sign the orders to keep us open. But I didn’t do the hard work – you did the hard work. You woke up, you went to your job, you provided for your family and you moved our state ahead.
And YOU should reap the rewards. YOU should keep more of your paycheck.. You’re the reason why we’re in
the great financial shape that we’re in. That’s why I am proposing that we once and for all eliminate the state income tax.
Now, some folks in the Capitol are proposing that we swap the income tax for increases in sales taxes, agriculture taxes, and other taxes. I want to be clear that from a “policy standpoint,” I am absolutely opposed to taking less from you here and taking more from you there. I’m opposed to robbing Peter to pay Paul. Under my plan, Peter and Paul are both going to have more money in their pocket.
What we need is a lower tax burden. Period. And I will insist on it, no matter who in the legislature stands in the way.
Defund the Police
I’d like to take a moment to thank our health care providers, and to thank our brave men and women in blue. Unlike liberal states, here in Mississippi, we back the blue. If radical Democrats had their way, they would probably have law enforcement police the streets with squirt guns. But given their stance on the Second Amendment, even those may be banned!
The Left expects our law enforcement officers to be psychiatrists, social workers, lawyers and more. Now tell me, how do we expect our police officers to be all these things with less money? Newsflash, they can’t. The Left is delusional. Their proposals make no sense. I want to be clear – my administration is committed to making sure our police have the tools they need to keep you safe and improve public safety.
And speaking of that goal, we’re taking steps to fight crime in our capital city. Two weeks ago today, we launched a safety initiative that increased law enforcement presence and visibility on our state highways and interstates and in the Capitol Complex Improvement District.
Mississippians shouldn’t have to cower because they’re afraid for their safety. Crime in Jackson affects all of us across the state. A successful Mississippi must include a successful and safe Jackson. We need a strong, safe capital city. This initiative is just our first step in making sure we have that.
COVID in Context
And speaking of safety – Commissioner Cain and his team inherited an absolute crisis in Corrections. But they are doing the necessary work to significantly improve conditions in our prison system for both inmates and our prison guards.
And Bob Anderson and his team at DHS have picked up the pieces of a broken agency to provide services to Mississippi families while working closely with federal authorities to safeguard taxpayers’ money.
And – Andrea Sanders and her team at CPS have been working day and night to focus that agency on the needs of those young kids in our foster care.
And the mental health lawsuit we inherited is nearing an end because we have gotten the state in substantial compliance.
As you can tell, even though your Mississippi press has only focused on COVID for the last year and half, we have been hard at work doing the job that you elected me to do.
And since I know every article written today by the mainstream media is going to focus on COVID… perhaps I should say something about it. Every government action that was taken last year was to protect the integrity of our healthcare system and to bridge the gap to a time when a vaccine could be developed.
President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed delivered that miracle vaccine. And we did it in record time. 1.2 million Mississippians have chosen to get vaccinated. Others have chosen a different path. And I will always defend those individuals’ right to decide what is best for them and their family.
Tuesday’s change in the CDC mask guidance is foolish and it is harmful. It reeks of political panic so as to appear they are in control. It has nothing to do with rational science. In Mississippi, we believe in freedom.
It was Thomas Jefferson who said, “The policy of American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits.”
In Mississippi, we are a free people. We know that it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.”
In Mississippi, it is our belief in God that has gotten us through this last year and a half. And it is my belief in God that gives me great optimism for what is to come in our great state.
Thank you for giving me this great honor to serve as your 65th Governor. God Bless!