The event featured a highlight of legislative accomplishments and a look forward to what’s to come.

On Thursday, the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC) held its 2022 Capitol Day, an event that highlighted recent legislative accomplishments in Mississippi, as well as looked forward at new initiatives on the horizon.

The event featured a panel discussion on educational achievement and speeches from state leaders and elected officials.

The first speaker of the morning was Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. The Mississippi Speaker discussed the House’s plan to eliminate the state income tax and how economists have shown the economic growth that could come from the plan. He discussed how Mississippi could become the 10th state to eliminate the income tax.

“There is no downside to allow citizens to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Gunn said.

The Speaker discussed a number of organizations that support the House’s plan for eliminating the income tax, including, but not limited to, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), Empower MS, Bigger Pie Forum, and Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP).

Gunn asked why MEC’s mission statement is to “serve as the essential organization for Mississippi businesses to cultivate job creation and economic growth” when they are not on the list to support getting rid of the income tax. He called on MEC to engage in the debate.

Following the Speaker, a panel discussed educational achievements in Mississippi. The panel featured:

  • Jim McHale, President & CEO, Woodward Hines Foundation
  • Vickie Powell, Senior Vice President Foundations, Mississippi Economic Council
  • Dr. Jay Allen, President, Itawamba Community College, Chair of Education Achievement Council
  • Haley Fisackerly, President & CEO, Entergy – Woodward Hines Education Foundation Board
  • Dr. Casey C. Prestwood, Associate Commissioner for Academic and Student Affairs, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
  • Moderator: Jason Dean, Sr. Vice President, PATH Company

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney discussed the need to pass bills that will allow the state to address healthcare, education and infrastructure. Chaney said that citizens cannot afford to not have quality healthcare in the state of Mississippi.

Secretary of State Michael Watson discussed his office’s Tackle the Tape initiative which sets out to cut regulations that are anticompetitive and do not further the safety and well-being of Mississippi citizens.

To efficiently review all 118,000 regulations in Mississippi’s regulatory code, the Secretary of State’s Office has created a plan called “29 by 29” that sets the goal to review every regulation of 29 occupational licensing boards and commissions by the year 2029. You can view the full plan here.

State Senator Dean Kirby, Pro Tem in the state Senate, talked about how during the 2022 Legislative session, lawmakers are tackling major issues.

Kirby talked about the teacher pay raise legislation with the teacher assistant pay raise included which passed the Senate on Wednesday after a strike all was inserted. The Mississippi House has motioned to invite conference on HB 530, the teacher pay raise bill. Kirby said that it is amazing that the House and the Senate are fighting about the teacher pay raise bill because they are very similar.

Sen. Kirby also mentioned the Congressional Redistricting plan and how it had passed the Senate in January. He said that it is a good and fair bill as they followed every guideline, however, he said it is already being challenged.

Now that legislative redistricting is underway, Senator Kirby is the Chairman of the Committee that will redraw the legislative maps.

State Senator Briggs Hopson, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, keyed on the historical revenue collection in state government. Sen. Hopson said that the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) bills have passed the Senate and will now head back to the House.

Hopson stated that there is a lot of additional money coming into the state, both from federal funds and productivity in Mississippi.

“This is an opportunity for Mississippi to invest in their future,” Hopson said. “I want Mississippi to be in a position to excel.”

The last speaker of the day was Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann. The Lt. Governor shared legislative successes on the Senate side, such as sending a broadband bill to the House that would go towards underserved areas and the Senate’s income tax cut plan.

Hosemann said that inflation is “real and accelerating,” and that though there is another plan from the House, he is open to talk with them about any questions. 

“We have unprecedented money in our account,” the Lt. Governor said. “We need to give some back.” 

Due to the Mississippi House being in session for the duration of the event, State Representatives Angela Cockerham and Jason White were not able to attend the event.