Governor Phil Bryant has released his latest eVideo update.
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Bryant has already made a wise suggestion that the various medical centers in Jackson should work together to build a larger complex instead of competing against one another. On Thursday the Republican said the state should expand its medical services, increase energy production, strengthen its manufacturing base and reduce its teen pregnancy rate.
Those are all fine goals, but enhancing medical services may be the easiest one to accomplish. If history is a guide, it will be most difficult to reduce the number of teen pregnancies — a statistic that as much as anything else prevents the state from reaching its potential.
As for gains by the Republican Party across the state, Herring said it’s hard to describe it as anything less than “historic,” noting that Philip Gunn’s eventual election as Speaker of the House is the first for the GOP in 136 years.
With a majority in both the state House and state Senate, Herring said the state GOP has come a long way since he was elected party chairman a decade ago.
The GOP took over the governor’s mansion with Kirk Fordice but had trouble pushing their agenda through a Democratic House. They soon realized they needed to find a majority there to get things done.
“We really began to focus back in that period,” Herring said. “We had been seeing steady growth to that point, but then we started picking up seats in the House.”
Now, with that majority realized, Herring said there is still a lot of work to be done and said having a majority doesn’t mean things will be easy for Republicans.
“This puts a heavy burden on the GOP,” Herring said. “Now we’re in position we have to govern and produce. We have to show results for the people of Mississippi and that’s what we intend to do.”
However, Herring also emphasized the need for a strong two-party system in the state. He said competition is key to keeping the debate lively and pertinent.
“The old one-party system was detrimental,” Herring said. “In the old days they would get elected on racial or personality issues. Now you’ve got them debating education, health care, jobs, things that inform the general public.”
Services for former Mississippi Gov. William Lowe “Bill” Waller, Sr., will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec, 3, 2011, at First Baptist Church Jackson.
Waller, 85, of Jackson, died Wednesday, Nov. 30 at St. Dominc Hospital after a short illness.
Visitation will be at the New Capitol from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. His body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Gov. Waller began his public service career in 1960 as District Attorney for the Seventh Judicial District, which then included Hinds, Madison, and Yazoo counties. As District Attorney, he is best remembered for his prosecution of Byron de la Beckwith for the June 12, 1963, murder of Medgar Evers. This was the first civil rights murder prosecution in Mississippi. Though the prosecution by Waller ended in two mistrials, the trial testimony of almost 60 witnesses and the introduction of more than 50 pieces of evidence were preserved. The trial transcript was crucial in the 1994 prosecution and conviction of Beckwith.
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Speculation has been running rampant since August, when Gov. Haley Barbour appointed a commission to study the Public Employees’ Retirement System.
Barbour’s executive order establishing the 12-member commission states it will ”review the financial, investment and management structure of PERS to ensure its long-term sustainability” and make recommendations for improvement. But lawmakers and retirees alike seem uncertain about what the commission is looking for and what changes it will ultimately recommend.
Brenda Scott, president of the Mississippi Alliance of State Employees, said she is suspicious of the commission because many of its members are businessmen without a vested interest in the system.
“I just don’t think it’s fair that a group of people who are profit-driven would be the best group of people to advise people who are service driven,” she said.
Scott said PERS is transparent and already has a board elected by the system’s beneficiaries.
“The fact that the governor felt the need to study the system and to have the report coming out after the elections are over is very suspicious,” she said. Scott said she is trying to convince state employees to elect people this November who will protect their retirement.
Scott said she has heard concerns about taxpayers contributing to PERS, “as if these city and municipal workers are not taxpayers.” She added that people in the private sector do not realize or appreciate how much they depend on services provided by public servants.
On Sept. 22, during budget hearings for fiscal year 2013, PERS Executive Director Pat Robertson said she has tried to allay the fears of members by reminding them that only the state Legislature has the authority to change their benefits.
“Study is not necessarily a negative,” Robertson said.
Rep. Diane Peranich, D-Pass Christian, had a word of warning about making changes to state retirement plans.
“Charlton Heston said it would be very hard to get the gun out of his hand unless he was dead,” Peranich said. “That’s how it’ll be if they come after state retirement.”
Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant Monday, asking him to schedule a presentation from the commission for the budget committee before Nov. 8. If not, Flaggs asked Bryant to join him in asking the commission to present its findings before the election.
Members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee tried to calm fears that the commission might recommend changes to the so-called “13th check,” or cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.
The “13th check” is money state retirees get each year to account for the rising cost of living. It is called the 13th check because it used to be paid out in a lump sum each year, although retirees can now collect it along with their monthly check. Robertson said the 13th check is intended to maintain an individual’s purchasing power once he or she retires.
Sen. Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, said he doesn’t think anyone wants to change the cost-of-living adjustment. “Hopefully after this discussion we can put to rest the fear mongering about the 13th check,” he said.
Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, said he doesn’t know why the governor thought a study committee was necessary, but employees have a right to be concerned about the future of their benefits plan. Other states, such as Colorado and Minnesota, have reduced cost-of-living increases for retirees.
“I don’t think it’s panic; I don’t think it’s fear mongering,” Brown said. “… I think (employees) have every right to be concerned.”
Sen. Dean Kirby, R-Pearl, a non-voting member of the study commission, said that at the last commission meeting, Chairman George Schloegel said commissioners have no intention of changing anything about the 13th check.
Kirby did say that in a letter from Schloegel, handed out to the budget committee, the chairman said he would be surprised of the commission made any recommendations that would prohibit an individual from receiving their cost-of-living adjustment as a lump sum payment, but did not address people who receive the 13th check on a monthly basis.
“I look forward to seeing the recommendations,” Kirby said. “Recommendations–that’s all it is.”
In a meeting with the Sun Herald on Wednesday, Bryant said as governor he would be focused on creating jobs and keeping existing jobs.
He outlined his jobs program, which includes keeping corporate taxes low and creating a “Governor’s Regulatory Commission.” He said this 12-member civilian panel would review current regulatory practices to ensure fairness and make the state more business friendly.
Bryant said he would push to phase out the inventory tax and reduce the sales tax on construction equipment.
He said the state must expand its energy exploration and production, and look to new technologies such as biofuels, clean coal and nuclear and solar engergy “to ensure Mississippi maintains its roles as a world leader in energy production.”
Bryant said he would continue to promote tourism on the Coast and statewide.
“There are 81,000 direct and indirect jobs in Mississippi in tourism and travel,” he said. “That’s 81 Toyota plants.”
Bryant said he would also work to bring more manufacturers to the state. He said he would love for the state slogan to change from “the Hospitality State” to “We Make Things.”
Bryant refuses to take campaign donations from casinos, and said he opposes them expanding to jurisdictions beyond where they are now. But he said he fought any efforts in the Legislature to raise their taxes and he doesn’t oppose the industry.
- The Dispatch: www.cdispatch.com/news/article.asp?aid=13066
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, spoke at Severstal Thursday as part of his Jobs Tour, a multi-city jaunt which has led him from furniture factories to solar panel plants to chemical companies across the state.
Bryant touted the benefits of manufacturing in the state, saying that Severstal, and companies like it, benefit communities not only by their presence, but also by the ancillary companies they attract.
As part of an overall jobs creation plan, Bryant is pushing a strategy he believes will help Mississippi develop and recruit new businesses and industries. Key facets of the plan include keeping corporate taxes low, eliminating inventory tax and promoting workforce training throughout the state.
"Ronald Reagan said, ‘I think the best overall social program is a job,’" Bryant said. "Considering our economy under the Obama Administration, those words may be more true now than when Reagan said them."
Bryant’s plan has scored praise from the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, the Associated General Contractors, Associated Builders and Contractors and the Mississippi Association of Realtors and Homebuilders Association of Mississippi.
"We’re extremely pleased to support Phil Bryant for governor because of his experience in supporting existing industry and in bringing new industry to our state," said Jay Moon, president and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. "Phil won’t be starting from scratch, and he’s worked to develop new job opportunities all over the state."
John Bass, MMA’s director of government affairs, said his organization supports Bryant because of his track record in following through on promises to cut taxes, recruit new business and industry and create a "fair legal climate" for employers.
"If Mississippi is to grow and prosper, even during a national economic downturn, we must have someone with the right experience and right ideas about how to bring more jobs and opportunities to the people of our state," Bass said.