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Mississippi Lawmakers React To Governor’s Address

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Jan 2014 09:34pm | comments

Mississippi lawmakers are offering a mixed reaction to Governor Bryant's speech. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports one of the governor's proposals might have bipartisan support.

The reaction to the speech split down partisan lines with Republicans broadly applauding it but Democrats saying it came up short.

Many lawmakers appreciated what they considered the positive tone of the speech.

However Democrats like Senator Willie Simmons of Clarksdale say Governor Bryant is still missing some of the biggest issues facing the state.

"I had hoped that he would take a closer look at the health care and think about how do we expand the Affordible Health Care Program and give more services to those persons that need Medicaid. That would have been a good approach but he chose not to do that," Simmons said.

Some Democrats had also hoped that Bryant would support an across the board teacher pay raise and not just merit based pay.

Republicans had a strong positive reaction as the Governor focused on what they consider the successes of the last two years of unified republican legislative control.

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says the governor was right to focus on the improvement in Mississippi's job market.

"Working with Governor Bryant the legislature has passed numerous legislation over the last couple years and will continue to do so into this year that encourages the private sector to invest their money here and create jobs in Mississippi. And not just the same old jobs but jobs that are better and higher paying jobs," Reeves said.

In the speech, Governor Bryant suggested that the state should pay for ACT testing of all high school students rather than the current four part exit exam.

Both Republican Senator Gray Tollison of Oxford  and Democratic Senator David Blount of Jackson think that idea could gain traction.

"And as he said, not only does it benefit the state and higher ACT scores it benefits that individual and his parents because if you have a higher ACT score, you get a chance for scholarship money if you are going to college," Tollison said.

"I think it is an intriguing idea and something we ought to look at. I mean it is not something that I have studied but I think it is an innovative idea and something that we might should do," Blount said.

This speech was Bryant's third in his first four year term as governor.

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