Governor Barbour

July 30, 2009

Neshoba County Fair
July 30, 2009

Thank you.  It’s great to be back at the Fair; there’s no place like it.  A little mud on your boots never should bother anybody over here.

This is my sixth speech at the Fair as Governor, and I’m glad to have back with me on stage Marsha, my bride of nearly 38 years.  And, speaking to the two dozen of you who have reminded me this morning how far I married over my head, Guys, I don’t need any reminding!  Y'all just pray our grandchildren look like her.

I remember 1982, the first time I ever spoke in this pavilion.  Our country was in a recession then, too.  In fact, we’d had several recessions over the preceding eight or ten years.

Ronald Reagan led us out of that deep recession, and for the next quarter century the number of Americans working skyrocketed as we added forty-nine million net new jobs; American technology changed the world in ways we couldn’t have imagined then; and more than a billion people around the world were lifted out of poverty.

Today, a new president, facing another deep recession, has gone in just the opposite direction from Reagan.

This administration and the extremely liberal Democrat Congress have gone on a spending spree that would give drunken sailors a bad name!

The federal budget this year will leave a $1.8 trillion dollar deficit – more than double the previous record; driven by multi-trillion dollar spending programs for stimulus, to bail out Wall Street, to take over General Motors, and that’s before you consider the President’s $3.5 trillion budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1.

This spending guarantees huge tax increases, federal debt that our grandchildren will still be dealing with when they're my age; not to mention a weaker dollar with accompanying increases in gas prices and higher interest rates.

We in Mississippi can heave a sigh of relief that state government hasn’t followed suit.

We’ve had balanced budgets by keeping spending under control.  We built up our Rainy Day Fund and are spending it prudently over a period of four years.  We protected reserves for the future. Lots of people including many legislators deserve credit for this.

But don't get me wrong: Mississippi faces very serious budget problems, and they are just around the corner.

These troubles will begin in the next fiscal year (FY 11) and will get much worse in FY 12, which is not as far in the future as you may think.  FY 12 is the budget year to be considered by the Legislature in January through April, 2011 . . . election year.

The massive amount of federal stimulus included in this year’s budget, the budget year that started just a month ago, masks the problem.

Despite the fact that state revenue was nearly $390 million below the estimate and about 4% below the previous year’s revenue, spending for the current fiscal year is at record levels; more than $6.1 billion.  This while it is virtually certain that state revenue will go down even more in this fiscal year.

Reduced state revenue means most state departments and agencies took cuts from last year and are spending at levels below those of FY 2008.  Public safety, the health department, mental health . . . you can go on and on.  The Governor’s office is taking a 6% cut.

Yet, because of the massive amount of federal stimulus money and the federal requirements for spending it, this year spending on K-12 schools is increased to 7.2% more than the previous record.  Universities and community colleges are also getting record appropriations.

Education is the number one priority of Mississippi state government; we spend about 63% of the general state budget on education.  However, it is not sustainable to use temporary federal funds to push up K-12 spending by 7.2% when you’re cutting law enforcement and other important state services.  When the extra federal money goes away, we will not be able to keep education spending at the top of that tall mountain because the rest of state government will have already been cut twice and probably a third time.

Our budgets for this year and next will include nearly $1 billion of temporary federal funds that won't be available in FY 12.

Because of the coming budget cliff, I have recommended to the Legislature that state government be streamlined and right-sized over the next year or so.  Phil Bryant made a start with his commission on government waste, but I believe we must go beyond that . . . to a major restructuring based on a review of every program, every department and every agency.

I wish I could predict for you that our economy would turn around quickly like it did in 1983 and 84.

With the trillions of dollars Congress and the Administration have thrown at government and at Wall Street in the last year, you’d think we’d have already seen a turn-around.

Remember, the current Administration told us, if Congress would pass the stimulus bill back in February, unemployment wouldn't go over 8%.  Well, it is 9.5% and rising.

            That's reason for concern in itself.  And lots of Americans are concerned.  Indeed, they're scared of all this spending . . . as they should be.

My additional concern, though, is that the two big policy initiatives still being pursued by the Administration and the Left in Congress are both job killers; they will both hurt the economy and cost our people jobs.

The health care reform proposals pending in Congress would be catastrophic for small businesses by adding a new 8% payroll tax for many; or forcing some small businesses to pay penalties of $750 per employee; and levying a major income tax surcharge on our most successful small businesses.  Inevitably, these huge tax increases on small businesses, in the hundreds of billions of dollars, will require them to reduce their number of employees.

When government raises the cost of employing people, employers necessarily employ fewer people.

This health care plan calls for enormous cuts in Medicare spending.  One plan cuts Medicare’s budget by $489 billion over ten years.  $489 billion.  Why?  To use the money to create a new health care scheme for people without insurance.  Medicare works.  Why should we cut the services and choices for people on Medicare to create a government-run health care system?  Why expand the Medicaid program by half as Congress proposes; Mississippi taxpayers already pay nearly $1 billion a year for our share of Medicaid.

And, as for the President's daily repeated promise that, if you like your health care plan today, you can keep it; I suggest you read Section 102(b)(1)(A) of the House health care reform bill that says after five years no health insurance policy can be sold unless it is approved by the federal government's health commissar.

Obamacare is a government-run health care system that would result in a federal government takeover of some 18% of our economy.

The other legislation being promoted in Congress is the so-called energy, or climate change bill.  In fact, because energy is the lifeblood of our economy; the Waxman-Markey is a government takeover of 100% of our economy! It is terrible for our economy and will not only kill jobs but also drive up costs for families.

Don't take my word for it, listen to what Barack Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle last year, quote: Under my cap and trade plan, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket, close quote, said then Senator Obama.

And it's true.  An analysis of the House energy bill shows electricity costs of residential customers of electric utilities in the southeastern U.S. would go up thirty to thirty-five percent, and bills for commercial and industrial customers would increase by much greater amounts.  Think about what a thirty percent higher electric bill would mean to you.

Rural electric cooperatives in our state estimate electricity bills will increase 15% initially, or about $20/month, and eventually go up 50% or about $750/year, when the bill is fully implemented.

Earlier this year the national association of our rural electric cooperatives calculated residential bills for their customers would go up $50-60 per month.  Our people can't afford an extra $600 to $750 per year for electricity.

The Left and their allies in the liberal media elite claim the Waxman-Markey bill with its cap and trade tax is a jobs bill; that it would create green jobs.

Well, if it's a jobs bill, why does the bill include billions, that's right, billions of dollars for special funds for all the people who'll lose their jobs because of the effects of this very bill?

Every study of the Waxman-Markey bill says it's a jobs killer.  The U. S. Chamber says it will cost 2.5 million jobs.  What are they thinking in Washington?
At least most of our Mississippi delegation, including your senators and congressman, are fighting their bad.

This so-called Waxman-Markey bill would also greatly increase energy costs for businesses, especially manufacturing.

Dan DiMicco, CEO of Nucor Steel, the largest steel maker in America, spoke at a conference on the Coast recently.  Nucor has a plant in Flowood.  DiMicco said the cap-and-trade tax in Waxman-Markey would drive energy costs so high that American steel would become noncompetitive in the world market, and steel jobs, like those in other heavy manufacturing, would go to China, India, Brazil and Russia.

Ironically, to make a ton of steel in China emits five times more greenhouse gas emissions than it does to make a ton of steel in America.  How crazy is this policy?  It would make greenhouse gas emissions worse.

Again, don't take my word for it. Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified at a Senate Environment Committee hearing the same day last month as I did.  She was asked a powerful question:  If the U.S. adopts the Waxman-Markey global warming, climate change bill and it succeeds in everything contained in it; but China and India don't cut back on their emissions, would it make any difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions? The EPA Administrator said American sacrifices and costs caused by Waxman-Markey "will not impact world CO2 levels."

This is the Obama EPA Administrator.  Should we deindustrialize America at a time when our economy is reeling and job creation is our biggest need and top priority?  Should we destroy jobs when it will have no effect on the climate?

Some favor this energy bill because of our excessive dependence on foreign oil.  That might make some sense, except in EPA's report on the cap and trade tax, it is expressly stated that the Waxman-Markey bill won't do anything to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  It wouldn't reduce our oil imports.

Indeed, the President's proposal in his budget to increase taxes on the oil and gas industry by $81 billion will drive up the cost of oil and gas, while reducing production in the U. S.  Seem backwards to you?  It does to me.

We need more American energy, not less. More affordable, available, reliable, American energy.

But this Administration disagrees.

Here is what Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu said last September, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."  Gasoline in Europe is $6 to $9 per gallon.  That is not what Mississippi needs!  I saw what $4 gasoline did to us last year.

I'm at a total loss to understand why, at a time when creating more, good paying jobs must be our top priority, our government is instead pursuing policies like the Waxman-Markey cap and trade tax and the Obamacare bill to create a government-run health care system.  These are job destroyers.

Fred Smith, the Mississippi native who founded and chairs FedEx, says, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing."  For America, the main thing is to get people back to work; to create jobs by keeping our businesses competitive instead of destroying jobs by driving up costs and taxes on our employers; to protect the environment in prudent, responsible ways that work in tandem with a strong economy.

Mississippi will keep our eye on the ball, but I hope you'll tell your Congressman to stop Washington from killing our jobs with Waxman-Markey and Obamacare. 

If Washington doesn't drown us, Mississippi will recover soon and start growing again as we were through the middle of last year.  I'm an optimist; always have been.  And I'm confident we'll overcome bad federal policy if we have to.