This Tuesday, November 6th, is election day.
I am writing you in this final hour to cast the vote that makes the most sense.
Check out http://www.barboursrecord.com to see why Haley is not the right choice this year.
You can check out my positions at http://www.eaves2007.com and see why a vote for John Eaves is a vote that will work with you.
I have also included much of how I feel at the end of this message.
I thank you immensely for your support and consideration.
Committed to OUR Coast
It is time for more action and less talk when it comes to rebuilding our Mississippi Gulf Coast. I will get the money to Coast residents and out of the hands of Haley Barbour and the moneychangers. More than two years after Hurricane Katrina, funds obtained from our delegation in Washington are being treated by Barbour as his personal funds and as he sees fit for political gain. This is not right! I will accelerate the rebuilding of our Katrina-devastated Coast by cutting the red tape and allowing the money to go to Coast residents and officials as Congress intended. I want to see our Gulf Coast rebuilt with the true character of her people – with tourism and business – not just a “little Las Vegas” of casinos and condos.
After just 20 minutes on a recent visit with a single mother and her two children in their FEMA trailer in Biloxi, I noticed I had gotten a headache from the formaldehyde. On another trip to Waveland, a woman was so excited about finally getting sheetrock two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated our Coast. Her insurance company paid her just $11,000 for what once was her $200,000 home. People in the community joked that if someone was smiling, it was because of the medication they were taking.
I believe we have a moral obligation to promote the common good and that the highest calling of government is to help its people reach their God-given potential. That depression on our Coast made me depressed…and angry. While these hardworking, God-fearing, taxpaying Mississippians are complaining about the disrepair of their FEMA trailers, the FBI has raided the office of a company owned by the wife of Governor Barbour’s nephew. Alcatec LLC, Rosemary Barbour’s firm, has a large contract – a five year contract that amounted to $299,376,647 in January 2006 – with FEMA to maintain thousands of travel trailers housing our residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. While our people are still suffering and living in intolerable conditions, the casinos are all up and running. Barbour has repeatedly requested waivers from the billions of block grant funds to drastically reduce the amount he has to spend on low and moderate income housing. Congress told him to use 70 percent, and he’s only using 20 percent. Insurance companies on the coast continue to play games with residents about “wind vs. water,” while Barbour maintains his hands are tied.
Will fight for you
My pledge to you is to be a Governor who will fight for you. I have fought the insurance giants before, and will do it again. Our Coast cannot fully recover until we have a Governor willing to stand up to big insurance and make them pay the claims they owe. To me, hurricane insurance is hurricane insurance, whether it’s wind or water. I will use Katrina funds to help the people on the Coast rebuild their homes, not to enrich friends, family and former clients. I can guarantee you we’ll make sure that every dollar of spending is scrutinized. There’s not going to be a single no bid contract. Nobody’s going to get a sweetheart deal because of their ties to the Governor. We aren’t going to be paying for limo rides for private contractors’ wives with our relief money.
People before ports
I believe in people before ports. The $600 million Barbour wants to take away from grants to rebuild homes and give to commercial interests must be stopped. This money came here for housing and it should be used for housing.
Hazardous duty pay for casino workers
All casino workers, including hotel and restaurant employees, should receive hazardous duty pay of at least $500 per month in addition to their regular salary due to the second-hand smoke environment in which they must work.
Opposed to offshore drilling
I fought alongside the 12-mile South Coalition, working against Barbour and the big oil companies who wanted to put profits over people by drilling underneath the federally-protected Barrier Islands.
It’s called illegal immigration for a reason – it’s illegal. I will make sure that big companies don’t get away with giving our jobs to illegal immigrants and sticking us with the bill. Barbour supports amnesty for illegal aliens. I do not. I will crack down on employers who hire illegal aliens.
Incentives for Mississippi-based companies
I will not only work to bring new businesses to the state, but will give Mississippi companies looking to expand the same benefits Barbour has handed out to foreign and out-of-state companies. Mississippi companies don’t ship their profits off to Tokyo or Las Vegas, they keep them right here at home where they belong. Mississippi-based companies deserve the same incentives for job growth that we give to outsiders. Mississippi-based companies should have the first shot for state contracts and tax incentives. Too much of our money goes to out-of-state companies. Local Mississippi businesses deserve the first shot. We need to spend as much time and as many resources helping Mississippi business as we do helping outside companies who come to Mississippi and send their profits back to Tokyo, Las Vegas and Florida.
The Grocery Tax
I know that Mississippi has the highest grocery tax in the nation and our hardworking, God-fearing families deserve a tax cut. It is embarrassing and wrong to charge working families the highest tax rate in the country on basic food items, while tobacco companies prey upon our children. Barbour vetoed a cut in the grocery tax paid for by increasing our tobacco tax to help the tobacco companies who have paid him millions of dollars as a lobbyist. As Governor, I will make it one of my top priorities to cut our grocery tax right now and pay for it by increasing the tobacco tax. Since I’m not bought and paid for by the tobacco lobby I’ll cut the grocery tax in half with the goal of ending it. Barbour’s claim that the grocery tax is the only tax everyone pays is baloney (no pun intended). The working poor in Mississippi shouldn’t have to pay the highest sales tax on groceries in the nation. Tobacco-related diseases cost this state over $270 million each year. Increasing the tax on tobacco reduces teen smoking, which will save lives and save the state money in the long run.
When it comes to education, the cost of ignorance is too high. I believe that there is no better investment we can make than in our children, and that is why one of my top priorities as Governor will be to improve our education system and ensure our schools are fully-funded each year, not just in election years. Less than 1-in-5 Mississippi kids can read at grade level, and that is not acceptable. It’s important to start learning early, that’s why I support the State Board of Education’s request for a $20 million Pre-K pilot program. Barbour has never recommended fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. He only fully funded it this year because the legislature forced him to. Now, he takes credit for it, but he didn’t support it. We’ve also got to make the cost of college affordable instead of raising tuition 25 percent like we have over the last four years under Barbour. We need a higher education system in which the people who want to go to college in Mississippi can afford to.
One of the state’s exports shouldn’t be teachers. Mississippi teachers are currently some of the lowest paid in the country. I have proposed increasing teacher pay by 5 percent a year until we are caught up with the average pay in the South, and then continuing to increase pay 3 percent each year after that so that we can attract the very best teachers. I will fund this pay-raise through an additional 2 percent tax on casino profits.
Another immediate change I would make to our educational system is to remove the out-dated policies that penalize home-schooled children. We should do everything we can to reward parents who make the sacrifice to stay at home and educate their kids. I will change the current rules so that home-schooled children have access to public school elective classes and extra-curricular activities they currently cannot get at home.
Prayer in our public schools
If we are truly going to create the best schools in the South, we need more than just good teachers and school funding. I support the establishment clause of the Constitution, but separation of church and state should not mean a divorce from God. I fear that we have taken separation way too far in our schools, our society and our government. That is why one of my first acts as Governor will be to return voluntary, student-led prayer to our schools so that children can begin to explore for themselves the fundamental questions of our existence and create a moral framework for all they learn. I will set aside 10 minutes each morning before roll is called for voluntary, student-led prayer and discussion of ethics and morality. I will leave the final decision on where this will take place to local school boards who know their facilities and community best, but I expect most will conduct the program in homeroom. All good things begin with prayer, and I believe that providing our children with the opportunity to begin each day with prayer will help instill in them a sense of hope, purpose and a respect for themselves, their peers and their teachers.
Every family in Mississippi with health insurance pays an average of $747 a year in increased premiums to cover the cost of treating the uninsured. In 2005, Mississippians spent nearly half a billion dollars ($498,943,000) covering the costs of the uninsured. I believe that we should follow the example of Christ in all we do, and that we would do well to shape our priorities in government after the priorities of His ministry of teaching, healing the sick and caring for the least and the last. This is why one of the other areas I will prioritize as Governor is health care. This last year, Mississippi became the state with the worst infant mortality in the nation. And in the last four years, the number of uninsured children in Mississippi has gone up 72 percent. Over 146,000 kids in Mississippi do not have health insurance. Barbour kicked over 65,000 children and elderly off of Medicaid his first year in office, and put in one of the only face-to-face reauthorization requirement for SCHIPs enrollment that has led to tens of thousands of children being kicked off the roles and losing their insurance. I will make sure that every child in Mississippi has health care. My plan, called Kid Care, is modeled after a program in Illinois. It’s affordable, and saves the state money in the long run. In fact, a recent study shows the program has saved the state of Illinois $2 for every $1 spent because it provides children with preventative care instead of forcing them to get much more expensive emergency room care. It’s cost-effective, but more importantly, it’s the right thing to do because it helps us meet our moral responsibility as a society to care for the least of these among us. Kid Care will cost the state an estimated $197 per child per year, with premiums and co-pays for families based on their income and number of children. However, the real cost of this program – and the real benefit – can only be measured by the children we help. If we don’t implement Kid Care, tens of thousands of Mississippi kids will continue to go without health care, and that’s simply unacceptable. If we don’t stand for children, we don’t stand for much. I am Pro-Life, and do not believe that those values end when a baby is born. We have a moral responsibility to care for our neighbor and to ensure no parent ever has to face the soul-crushing realization that they cannot provide their child with the medical treatment their child needs.
Jobs and Unemployment
Barbour is running on how many jobs he brought to Mississippi, but the fact is that Mississippi has the second highest unemployment rate in the country. When Barbour came into office, we were 36th in unemployment. Today we’re 49th. Our unemployment rate is more than a full point higher than Louisiana. In fact, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama are all doing better than us. Mississippi also had the largest increase in the unemployment rate of any state in the country since Barbour took office. We’ve lost over 7,000 manufacturing jobs since he took office. And Haley calls that progress?
I’m not planning on changing the existing law when it comes to tort reform. We got promised the world with tort reform, but we still have a health care crisis. You know, Barbour was right to note there is a health care crisis – but he’s been the one causing it. Hess been doing everything in his power to make sure less people are insured by the state. Instead of cutting people off, we need to be expanding coverage. We need a Governor who doesn’t help big insurance make bigger profits.
‘Suing the military’
Barbour deals in half-truths. Here’s the whole truth: I loves my country, and resent Barbour’s implication that I would ever hurt our men and women in uniform. Barbour is correct when he says I sued the military, but what Barbour doesn’t tell you is that it was because our veterans did not receive the health care benefits they deserve. The list includes veterans of the first Gulf War who returned with unexplained illnesses that Washington refused to pay treatment for; military families on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques who are suffering from toxic contamination as the result of 60-plus years of military exercises conducted on their homeland; and when two U.S. Marine pilots flew into a cable supporting a gondola in Cavalese, Italy, and 20 people were killed – including the wife and child of a friend of mine. I have not received a dime from the U.S. Government in these efforts. Washington is not always right, and I am proud to say I stood with military families against Washington bureaucrats. And I’d do it again to protect veterans who have proudly served our country. I’ve never asked the military to stop training. I’m telling them to help the people they’ve made sick. If people are going to be sick because of this, you need to help them. I’ve spent my entire professional career trying to protect the value of life. When companies work to save lives, I applaud them. But when they take shortcuts with people’s lives, I make sure they are held accountable.
I will tighten our ethics laws to ensure true ethical behavior. No other Governor has used a blind trust, and neither has any other elected official in Mississippi – not a constable, sheriff, mayor, state legislator or Attorney General. What is Barbour hiding? Bloomberg News and The Clarion-Ledger reported that Barbour gave hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Katrina recovery contracts to friends, family and clients of his former lobbying firm.
Please remember to vote Nov. 6
This year’s election boils down to one very simple question: “Who do you serve?” It’s very obvious Barbour serves the interests of big insurance, big oil and big tobacco. When he got elected, Barbour simply opened a new branch of his lobbying firm in the Governor’s mansion. The sad truth is there is no telling how much fraud, waste and abuse that exists today in Mississippi as a result of the tentacles that Barbour’s friends have put into the Governor’s mansion.
We must never forget that in each “number” we see, there are faces and personal stories attached to each of those. The child who is forced to go to bed hungry is not a statistic. The parents who stay up late night after night desperately trying to figure out how they will make ends meet – they are not statistics. The teenager who forgoes his or her dream of college because neither he or she nor her family can afford it is not a statistic. These are individuals who have hopes and dreams. These are our neighbors. These are God’s children. And they deserve better.
It’s time for a new day in Mississippi. And with your help and vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6, we will be able to boldly proclaim that a new day is dawning in Mississippi and the era of low expectations is over.