At a time when pundits were drooling over free money, the former State Auditor questioned the hype. In 2012, Medicaid was already 23.4 percent of Mississippi’s budget. In his 2013 State of the State address, Bryant proposed that instead “of assuming enormous costs that we cannot afford, I would suggest that we spend our time and efforts in finding good jobs for all Mississippians.”
Which he did. In January 2017, Mississippi received the Gold Award from Business Facilities for landing Continental Tire’s $1.45 billion manufacturing plant with 2,500 new jobs – the 2016 Economic Development Deal of the Year in the United States. Continental was a sequel to Yokohama, Top Ship, yet another Nissan expansion, General Dynamics IT, William Sonoma, the Nissan Supplier Park, GRAMMER, Southern Motion, and H.M. Richards. Area Development Magazine now lists Mississippi in the Top 10 States for Doing Business.
As to Medicaid expansion, reasonable minds can differ. The Mississippi State Medical Association, a respected and influential group, strongly supports broadened health care coverage to address a very real public health crisis. Still, the policy issues on how to fix the problems and how to fund the solutions are thorny. Reasonable people should agree that nothing is free, there is a limit to how much we can tax our way to prosperity, and the allocation of the state’s limited financial resources involves difficult and subjective choices.
Phil Bryant, Mississippi’s prescient governor, with the support of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn, took a reasoned and practical approach. Give a person a fish, and you feed ‘em for a day. Give a person a job, and you feed ‘em for a lifetime.
Mississippi Business Journal