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Bryant: ‘Bold Action’ Needed in Mississippi

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Jan 2013 09:49pm | comments

Governor Phil Bryant is calling on Mississippi lawmakers to take 'bold action' for the state. Bryant is laying out his vision for the current legislative session during his state of the state address. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the speech was widely accepted by Republicans but fell flat with many Democratic lawmakers.

"And now please join me in welcoming the governor of the state of Mississippi the honorable Phil Bryant,"

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves introduces Governor Bryant before his nearly 40 minute State of the State Address at the capitol in Jackson last night.

There were a number of empty seats, where a state of the state address usually draws a packed house.

Bryant spent much of the early portion of his speech focusing on what he considers job creation successes in Mississippi.

"Last year, Mississippi's economic development efforts resulted in nearly 2,700 new jobs," Bryant said.

Bryant announced that Ashley Furniture is expanding its Mississippi operations and adding 60 new jobs at a facility in Verona.

That's a move that Ashley co-owner Ron Wanek says makes sense for the company.

"Geographically this fits us well. So it fits our business plan really well. We enjoy working in Mississippi. Bunch of great employees. Good attitude. So that is why we are here," Wanek said.

Bryant also spent a heavy portion of his speech focusing on his education reform agenda including more attention on third grade reading, an expansion of charter schools, and the ability for Mississippi students to travel between school districts.

"Open enrollment will create competition and offer freedom from restrictions that keep children in failing schools," Bryant said.

Many of the Governor's proposals drew cheers and applause from Republicans in the crowd while Democrats sat silently.

Democratic Representative Steve Holland of Plantersville was disappointed that the Governor used his speech to oppose an expansion of Medicaid in Mississippi.

"He needs to expand Medicaid. If he really wants to get serious about medicine in the state and creating jobs. The way to do it is expanding Medicaid. 9-thousand new jobs," Holland said.

But Republican Senator Buck Clark of Hollandale was glad to hear the Governor more fully describe his goals.

"He spelled a little bit more detail about some of the things he wants to do. There are great challenges, he said it like that, things aren't going to be easy. It is going to be interesting to see what things we can get done this year," Clark said.

The legislature appears to be moving quickly on at least one of Bryant's top goals...both the house and senate have passed versions of a bill to expand Charter schools in Mississippi.

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