Q&A: Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi

Barbour tackles toughest issues facing the state

The youngest of three sons, Yazoo City native Haley Barbour is currently serving his second term as governor of Mississippi. Prior to being elected in 2003, Barbour served as a lobbyist and was chairman of the Republican National Convention from 1993 to 1997. He recently sat down for a conversation with the Mississippi Business Journal’s Nash Nunnery.

Q — State tax collections have fallen short of expectations for the past 15 months in a row and millions have been slashed from the state’s budget. What are expectations to reverse this trend in 2010 and is there a timetable for recovery?

A — It’s feasible that the private sector may see things begin to turn around in 2010, but recovery as far as state revenues are concerned are going to lag well behind the overall economic recovery. As for any timetable for recovery, it’s not something anyone in government can determine beforehand. Recovery happens when you put people to work in the private sector. Obviously there is a role government can play in attracting new business and industry and expanding the existing ones. We face a budget gap of some $715 million for fiscal year 2011, and to close that gap, we’re going to have to make some tough choices. Right now, one of the most important things we can do is to make some fundamental changes in the way state government operates so we can be ready when the economy turns around.

Mississippi Business Journal
12/21/9

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