NESHOBA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS – Mississippi Republicans have offered legislative solutions to grow the economy and address challenges facing the state, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told the crowd at the annual Neshoba County Fair today.

Efforts to reduce the size of government, cut the tax burden and increase agency efficiency are moving forward. He also called for continued investment in workforce training.

“Conservative policymakers pass conservative policies that send the message: Mississippi is open for business, and we want yours,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said.

He highlighted accomplishments from the 2017 session, including:

· The creation of mental health courts, which are modeled after the state’s highly successful drug court program. These courts will connect individuals with treatment options and move them out of county jails.
· Eliminating inactive commissions off the books and removing certain regulations on licensing boards to get government out of the way so industries can grow.
· Suspending purchases of new state vehicles for one year, saving an estimated $10 million. Similar buying moratoriums saved taxpayers $20 million.

Lt. Gov. Reeves stressed the importance of investing in workforce training programs and preparing students for work after high school, not only college life.

“I’d like to see more innovative partnerships between our educational institutions and the private sector, more collaboration preparing future generations for work if they’re not college-bound,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said.

Remarks as prepared:

Good morning Neshoba County – this is my favorite time of year to catch up with old friends, share good food and sweat through a few shirts with a couple thousand of my closest friends.

I really appreciate my better half, Elee, joining me here today. With high school softball practice, soccer camp, and tumbling all this week, our three beautiful daughters had to take this year off. But Tyler, Emma and Maddie will be back and ready for the Midway next year.

We’re missing someone today. Sid Salter is not in his usual ringside seat. Leilani and Kate, please let him know we’re all praying for his recovery and return.

Real solutions that Republicans have championed over the last several years have our state headed in the right direction. We are making strides in education and building the right environment for job creation.

Of course, you wouldn’t know that from listening to the previous speaker.

The longer he talked the more I became convinced the heat has gotten to him. His vision is blurry and he’s not making sense.

Can somebody track General Hood down and keep him hydrated today?

I’m beginning to worry about him – and his friends in the news media, who can’t see straight either.

Bless their bleeding little hearts.

They don’t see the good in Mississippi that you and I see. And in our Bicentennial year, I believe it’s time we start bragging a little more on the positives in our home state!

I see a Mississippi where more students are graduating with diplomas in their hands.

In 2012, 70.5 percent of Mississippi students graduated high school. The national average was 82 percent. Five years later, the national average has not changed but our graduation rate has risen by 10 points! We expect that number to keep growing!

I see a Mississippi with record low unemployment – 4.9 percent in May – It used to be that people looked for jobs. With 4.9 percent unemployment, we now have jobs looking for people!

I see a Mississippi that rallies around its people. When the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs made their run to the title game, even die-hard Rebels couldn’t help but cheer on Itty Bitty and her teammates when they beat UConn.

Our beautiful state has much to brag about. It takes special set of blinders to ignore the good and only see the bad. Democrats like the previous speaker would have you believe the sky is falling. That Mississippi is in peril and only he and his liberal friends can save it.

But they had their chance!

Do you remember what government was like when Jim Hood’s crowd ran it?

I remember it. Their government was hungry.

It had an endless appetite for your hard-earned dollars. They only know how to feed the beast of government with more taxes, to get more spending, to create more government.

Your Republican leadership, though, has taken on the status quo, and we have the bullet holes to show for it! Sometimes, we’ve even gotten shot in the back.

It’s not easy. The liberals are entrenched deep in state government.

They’ve convinced some politicians and their liberal friends in the media that their way is the only way to serve Mississippians, that their demands for tax dollars shouldn’t be questioned or scrutinized.

But I’m not backing down! I promised you that I would shrink the size of government, reduce your tax burden, and demand efficiency from bureaucrats.

And I, along with your Republican leadership team, am delivering on that promise.

This year, for the third time in six years, we halted state government from buying new vehicles. This simple solution has already saved taxpayers about $20 million in previous state fleet freezes and will save $10 million more this year. Prohibiting state agencies from buying unnecessary vehicles is a common-sense simple solution that gets real results.

For the second time since I became Lieutenant Governor, we ended the session without a bond bill. We will pay down about $270 million in debt and not add more to the state’s credit card! I promised you I would reduce your debt burden and trim the fat. And we’re showing the special interests in Jackson that we mean it!

Now the liberals hate me for this.

They think that a year in which the state does not borrow money is a lost opportunity to grow government.

And to tell you the truth, they have a point!

And I will deny them the opportunity to grow government every chance I get.

Governor Bryant and Speaker Gunn deserve a big thank you for their leadership on this issue also.

Working together, we eliminated inactive commissions off the books. We removed needless regulations on licensing boards. We are getting government out of the way so our industries can grow.

We believe a smaller government that costs less and a flatter, fairer tax code can help grow our state economy and create more jobs.

Conservative policymakers pass conservative policies that send the message: Mississippi is open for business, and we want yours!

And if President Trump’s popularity in Mississippi is any indication, the good people of our state are going to continue to send conservative leaders to Jackson!

While Republicans have worked to lower your tax burden, Democrats are fighting to raise taxes!

This is a real fight – and a fundamental difference. Let’s talk about who it matters to.

Hood and his allies in Jackson want to delay lowering taxes in January for – get ready, you might be on this list – truck drivers, Realtors, barbers, preachers and self-employed Mississippians.

I’m proud we passed the largest tax cut in state history, and I’m not going to let them deny you the tax break so they can keep spending with reckless abandon!

These tax cuts are likely to boost the state’s economic output in the long term, but more importantly, they acknowledge something Republicans have long recognized: The money you earn belongs to you, not the government. Cutting taxes is giving you more power over your finances and, in turn, your future.

Governing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s easy to stand here and tell you that more of your tax dollars will solve all the problems of our state.

It’s harder to find real solutions that work!

And there are many areas that need real solutions. Addiction is a problem for too many Mississippi families – be it opioids or alcohol.

First responders came to us asking for help fighting the opioid crisis so we made it easier for emergency professionals to access the medicine necessary to save the lives of those in crisis.

That was a real solution, not rhetoric.

Caring for the mentally ill is another area that needs improvement.

This year, the Legislature created mental health courts, which are modeled after our highly successful drug court program.

With hard work by your Senator Branning and Judge Collins, we’re perfecting these courts on a small scale in a few circuit court districts, including the 8th district here in Neshoba County.

These courts will connect individuals with the treatment they need – not lock them up in jails where they don’t belong!

It takes real solutions, not just more of your tax dollars.

Speaking of mental health care, I have pushed for a review of our Department of Mental Health to try to find better ways to care for some of our most vulnerable Mississippians.

Both times leadership of the state agency personally came to the Capitol – on your dime – to lobby against any closer look at how their agency operates.

Then, a federal judge had to force the Department and their lawyer Jim Hood to release a taxpayer-funded report detailing challenges in how the state cares for children.

Now this wasn’t the first time this year General Hood has been more interested in protecting his “friends” rather than the people of Mississippi.

You may remember that Our Attorney General also refused to fight for the law passed last year to protect your religious freedoms.

You see, Jim Hood, seems more concerned with impressing his “friends” in California. He seems more interested in supporting liberal policies pushed by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders than doing the job he was elected to do!

California even banned travel to Mississippi by government workers. Well, that’s better news for us. We’ll keep sending our economic development teams out West to recruit businesses to our state with our lower taxes and fewer regulations, and they can stay home!

Recruiting more business and industry (from California or anywhere else) is what drives me as your lieutenant governor. How do we improve the climate for job creation? How do we get Mississippians connected to good careers?

Currently, there are almost 40,000 jobs waiting for trained Mississippians.

We can’t let up on training and re-training our workforce. We’ve increased that amount – up to $50 million more for workforce training through the Mississippi Works Fund – and we’re in constant communication with employers to ensure we’re preparing Mississippians for the jobs available.

I’d like to see more innovative partnerships between our educational institutions and the private sector, more collaboration preparing future generations for work if they’re not college-bound.

And let me tell you – success looks different for every child. Having a good job and having a four-year degree are two different things.

In fact, in June, I went to a celebration of the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation’s new training facility in Pearl.

If you go there, you will see private employers working with the Department of Education to train students for hands-on jobs in welding, plumbing, and electrical fields. These are jobs that pay well.

We should celebrate its success and connect them with even more employers. After all, when kids understand the skills they’re learning have a practical application, they’re much less likely to dropout – and significantly more likely to get, and keep, a good-paying job.

In Starkville, Mississippi State and the local school district – a recently consolidated school district – worked with private donors and the state to build a one-of-a-kind Partnership School that will educate all middle school students in Oktibbeha County. Gives them a taste of life after high school.

I’m willing to bet this school will be a model for other communities around the state.

Real solutions are hard. They require tough decisions on politically difficult issues – like revamping an antiquated education funding formula. We believe in a formula that spends more money in the classroom, and less money in the district office, and I look forward to our continued work on this issue.

Real solutions require deliberate thinking on issues critical to our growth.

Another one of those issues is public infrastructure – which is a core function of government.

The problem is real. The goal is one we all agree on – better roads and bridges.

While I disagreed this year with the House proposal to raise taxes, I firmly believe we will find common-sense solutions that will work –and that we can agree on.

Again, a government that works takes real solutions, not just more of your tax dollars.

I am committed to keep working on those real solutions.

And I am committed to continuing to produce the positive results that make us proud to be Mississippians!

Thank you and God Bless Mississippi!