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MS Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves's Legislative Agenda 2012

MS Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves's Legislative Agenda 2012

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02/01/2012

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Opportunity Mississippi
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves2012 Legislative AgendaFebruary 1, 2012
 
February 1, 2012Governor Phil BryantThe Mississippi SenateThe Honorable Terry Brown, President Pro TemThe Mississippi House of RepresentativesThe Honorable Philip Gunn, Speaker  Dear Governor Bryant, Speaker Gunn and Members of the Mississippi Legislature:Through a combination of reduced spending, an emphasis on job training and a reliance on its natural resources,Mississippi has become well positioned to grow its workforce into new technological areas and help small businesses grow and succeed. We, as elected representatives, should adopt the necessary policies that will helpMississippi lead the charge out of the national economic collapse.Today, I present an agenda for the 2012 Legislative Session that aims to steer Mississippi onto the path of suc-
cess. Through better outcomes in our public schools, streamlined state services, scal responsibility and protect
-ing Mississippi families, we can guide our state toward quality jobs, responsible spending and higher educa-tional attainment.The task ahead will not be simple. New policies and programs will be weighed against the state’s ability toafford them. While revenues are atslightly higher-than-expected levels, Mississippi’s economy – like the na-tion’s – is vulnerable and weak. Our state economist predicts revenues and employment levels will not return to pre-recession levels until Fiscal Years 2015 or 2016. With low unemployment and little revenue growth, state
agencies will have to nd new ways to offer the same quality services to the public for several years to come.With this in mind, I propose a stronger focus on scal responsibility and government efciency. The Legislature
must take an active role in reining in Mississippi’s debt and, as a result, the amount of money assigned to debtservice rather than on other essential state services. I also support a return to budget prudency by setting aside 2 percent of general fund revenues into the state’s so-called “Rainy Day Fund.”
I created the Accountability, Efciency and Transparency Committee to ensure state government optimizes each
tax dollar spent. This committee will review ways to save money through procurement reform and shared ser-
vices. Taxpayers also deserve to know how their elected ofcials are spending tax dollars, therefore I also sup
-
 port legislation to shine the light on how the Ofce of the Attorney General awards contracts and allow agencies
 
to hire legal counsel if needed.The key to Mississippi’s future is in the classroom. For far too long, state government has resisted substantialchanges to how children are educated in public schools. This resistance as led to a high dropout rate, wastefulspending and frustrated teachers and parents. School consolidation is one area where we have the opportunity toimprove student success and eliminate waste in government. I will propose the consolidation of the three school
districts in Sunower County, which are all currently under conservatorship at the Department of Education. Bycombining Indianola, Drew and Sunower school districts, school leaders can combine duplicative functions,
which will free up more tax dollars for the classroom. This district will be managed by an appointed superinten-dent, who is able to concentrate on improving education rather than winning an election.I will support efforts to bring charter schools to Mississippi. While not a panacea to all our educational short-comings, charter schools give parents a choice and provide students with better opportunities to succeed. A goodeducation is the launch pad for a successful career, and every Mississippi child deserves a chance at that suc-cess. The Legislature should afford them that chance through passage of a strong charter school bill.While Mississippi is one of the best places to raise a family, we can do more to protect children so they willgrow up to lead productive lives. My agenda includes amending the statutory rape law to require better report-ing and protection of minors. I will support legislation that requires any person who knows of sexual abuse of aminor to report the crime to authorities within 48 hours of learning of the incident. This legislation should makeit clear that any hesitation to report such crime is not tolerated. My agenda also continues to protect unbornchildren by prohibiting anyone from intentionally causing, aiding or assisting a minor in obtaining an abortionwithout consent from the child’s parents or legal guardian.Through eliminating government waste, responsible spending and new, innovative approaches to educationand protecting our families, Mississippi can emerge from this national economic slowdown even stronger than before. I look forward to working with Governor Bryant, Speaker Gunn and each of you to keep Mississippi onthe path to a brighter future.Sincerely,Tate Reeves

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