The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s operations center in Peal will be renamed Thursday for Gov. Haley Barbour.
The 2011 Legislature authorized the naming of the State Emergency Operations Center in Barbour’s honor for his leadership through several natural disasters that have struck Mississippi, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
He took to the speaker’s podium for the last time as governor during a joint session Wednesday and when Haley Barbour did so, his target audience was in front of him.
“I want to talk to you, the legislators,” Barbour told lawmakers.
Those legislators were all ears as Barbour laid out his thoughts on the new session and what direction he believes the state needs to move in. But it will first take a budget. Barbour gave his own recommendation last month calling for an overall spending reduction of nearly three percent. It’s a budget he told lawmakers they should back.
“Trust me, departments and agencies can meet my budget. They can achieve further savings if you required it of them and they can still provide services of the same quality and at the same level,” said Barbour.
In his final address to the Legislature, Gov. Haley Barbour challenged the new Republican majority at the Capitol to follow through with efforts he has been unable to accomplish in his tenure.
Barbour, who faced stern challenges from Democrats who controlled the House during both of his terms, urged lawmakers to resist the pleas of state agency heads who have resisted funding cuts.
“It’s the nature of government agencies to want to increase their spending level, but often cuts are required,” Barbour said during a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday. “There are gonna have to be more.”
Job creation and economic growth are still the most critical issues facing Mississippi, Gov. Haley Barbour has said.
Barbour made jobs creation his mission eight years ago by overhauling workforce training, brought stability and predictability to our legal system through tort reform, created an energy policy based on ensuring affordability and availability and insisted on state budgets that were about government living within its means.
The 64-year-old Republican leaves office when his second term ends at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
For his contribution, history will record Haley Reeves Barbour as one of Mississippi’s most effective chief executives, not withstanding the most obvious, his extraordinary leadership in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Mississippi never lost continuity of government. Barbour repeatedly credited the local authorities, – Democrat and Republican alike – first responders, and the Congressional delegation, but at the end of the day he was in charge and calling the shots.
Barbour was the right man at the right time.