By: Governor Haley Barbour
LEGISLATURE SHOULD BE THANKED FOR 2004 REGULAR SESSION
This has been a hard budget year that required many tough choices. The Legislature passed some significant legislation and an honest budget with no deficits and no tax increases. That budget is a major achievement. While I would have made some different choices, and we still will have a lot more to do next year, I commend our legislators for making difficult choices. Legislative leaders and all who played a role in this process deserve praise and gratitude for their accomplishment. I want to personally thank the Legislature for passing many of the requests in my “State of the State Address” and much of my “Operation: Streamline” budget.
Savings Over Spending
The Legislature passed more than $200 million in savings, mostly from “Operation: Streamline.” This is the largest savings total in state budget history. Some one-time money was used to avoid more difficult cuts – like tobacco trust fund money – but our budget shortfall, projected at $709 million, was reduced to $401 million, and raids on special funds next year will be reduced by two-thirds.
We made real progress in our goal to eliminate the shortfall in two years, with no tax increases.
Workforce Development + Tort Reform = Job Creation
The Legislature honored the promise many of us made on the campaign trail: “No tax increases.” This is a brave stance that not only helps restores budget responsibility, but helps recruit new industry to Mississippi as well.
The missing piece of our job creation plan, however, is tort reform. Ending lawsuit abuse in Mississippi is an immediate need that must be addressed this year. This week I have called a Special Session on tort reform, to begin Wednesday, May 19, at 1:00 p.m.
Education Did NOT Get a BAD Check
I was also pleased that the Legislature passed our teacher recruitment enhancements and expanded alternative certification. Mississippi schools need more than twice the number of new teachers as join the profession annually. This legislation helps recruit non-education majors into teaching through alternate certification and allows all students to compete for key teaching scholarships, if they agree to teach in shortage areas or subjects.
Mississippi is Safest Place to be an Unborn Child
Before I became Governor I read many accounts about how hard it is for the Governor and the Legislature to work together in Mississippi. While we had many difficult issues, I did not find that to be the case. This Legislature has been very good to my proposals, because many legislators, Democrats and Republicans, campaigned on the same issues and solutions I ran on. I appreciate them, and you should, too.
Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741