Lt. Gov. Reeves’ remarks as prepared:
Thank you, Thank you! What a great day in Mississippi. Congratulations to Delbert Hosemann, Jim Hood, Stacey Pickering, Lynn Fitch, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Chaney who took their oaths alongside me here today.
Voters placed their confidence in everyone elected in this chamber to keep Mississippi on a path to a brighter future. They want better-paying jobs, better schools and a safe place to raise their children. Speaking of children, I’d be remiss if I did not mention my family who is here with me today. During my first campaign for State Treasurer I said that my wife Elee was my biggest asset, but my friends kept telling me that she was my ONLY asset. Our family has grown since then. Many of you know my girls Tyler and Emma and we have another little girl on the way. It’s my hope that the work we do together in this building will make their future and the future for all Mississippi kids brighter than ever.
And I believe we can accomplish that. We need to continue to improve the climate for companies to bring highly-skilled jobs to Mississippi – keeping taxes low and providing the best in workforce training opportunities. We need to look at innovative ways to provide quality education through our public schools, community colleges and universities. And we need to ensure our law enforcement has the tools needed to keep our families safe.
We can move toward these goals, but it will not be easy. Our state’s economy – like the nation’s – is struggling. Revenues are coming in at slightly higher-than-expected levels, but that could change over the course of the next six months. Most economists, including our state economist, believe revenues will continue to be sluggish and won’t return to pre-recession levels until FY 2014 or 2015. Caution should be the standard as we design a budget for the next fiscal year.
We will need to budget conservatively and look for more ways to save money. We should pass legislation requiring agency heads to find more efficiencies in government. And that is why I created a new committee in the Senate named Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency – whose charge will be to help accomplish this. By right-sizing government and holding down the state’s debt, we can make Mississippi a more attractive place to do business. In all things we do we should remember that government does not create jobs, instead we should strive to provide an environment that encourages the private sector to invest capital and create jobs.
We have seen great success in economic development over the past eight years. Mississippians are making solar panels in Senatobia and Hattiesburg. They’re making jet engines in Batesville and defense systems in Columbus and on the Gulf Coast. And, of course, Mississippians are now making cars in Canton AND Blue Springs.
But we cannot let these successes lull us into a false sense of confidence. Our neighboring states have taken notice of our accomplishments, and they are positioning themselves to be more competitive and to attract the higher paying and highly skilled jobs that we want here.
We cannot lose our intensity and focus on economic development. A big part of that is workforce training. We have to keep upgrading the skills of our workforce. A well-trained workforce is the key to recruiting better jobs for Mississippi. And with good jobs, we can keep our children at home to raise their families.
Like many of you, Elee and I grew up in small Mississippi towns … went to a Mississippi college … graduated and got great Mississippi jobs … got married and started raising Mississippi kids. Most Mississippians want to do just that. But not all of them have that option. Our job is to change that.
Everyone in this Chamber knows someone who moved to Texas or Georgia or Florida or somewhere else to get a better career. We need to reverse that trend. Too many Mississippi teens do not see college as part of their future, and we need to change that mindset.
We will start by improving the education attainment level of our students. We have to make sure that we’re providing access to a quality education for all of our people. Black, white, rich and poor. We have to improve the early education curriculum to get children off to the best start possible. We have to put college within reach of every child who needs it.
We all want these things to happen for every citizen in Mississippi. So, whether you serve in the Senate or the House … whether you are from the Hills or the Delta, the Pine Belt or the Coast, working together we can accomplish our goals.
I look forward to working with Governor-elect Bryant, Speaker Gunn and each of you to keep Mississippi on that path to that brighter future. God bless you and may God bless the State of Mississippi.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves Press Release