During his first state of the state address Tuesday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said his goals include implementing education and budget reforms, economic development initiatives, and workforce development.
Bryant, a Republican who replaced term-limited Haley Barbour, plans to ask the Legislature to authorize $31 million of bonds for economic development incentives. That is less than half what lawmakers approved last year.
Implementing an offshore natural gas energy-recovery program similar to that already used in Louisiana and Alabama is also on Bryant’s agenda.
Funds generated by the program would be dedicated to the state educational trust fund, he said.
Bryant also unveiled a major health care program that would involve creating “medical zones” across the state for clusters of medical facilities and services.
“Within these medical zones, we will encourage expansion by offering construction tax credits and job-creation incentives where new high-tech careers begin,” he said.
The Legislature will also be asked “to pass a workable Charter School Act once and for all,” said Bryant, who also plans to ask lawmakers to implement performance-based budgeting.
Bryant’s executive budget recommendations, to be released next week, will call for setting aside 2% of revenues to replenish the state’s rainy-day fund.
“As lieutenant governor, I fought to fully fund our cash reserve and to prevent its depletion,” he said. “I am proud to say we maintain some $281 million in funds today that can be used to help balance our budget while delivering necessary services to the taxpayers of the state.”
Bryant said he expected legislative leaders to help him control state spending and reduce reliance on using one-time funds for recurring expenses to create savings and prepare the state “for the challenge of a turbulent global economy.”
The legislative session began Jan. 3 and runs through May 5.