JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Cecil Brown has been part of Mississippi state government for 24 years.
“This is officially my last day," said Brown. “I am riding off in the sunset,” he added with a chuckle.
He first served as Chief of Staff for Governor Ray Mabus, later serving as a State Representative for 16 years.
He most recently served as a Public Service Commissioner.
“I don’t believe in legacies," he explained. "You can look at the people on these walls in here, people who have been elected to various positions and as soon as you’re out of office, people don’t remember who you are. And that’s normal. I’m fine with that.”
He says it’s not about what’s been done right or wrong but instead what’s been left undone that disappoints him.
Brown was House Education Chair for several years of his tenure in the legislature. And the topic is one he’s still passionate about seeing change.
“I’m happy for the kids that have vouchers," he said of one change in the last decade. "I’m happy for charter schools kids. But there’s got to be some emphasis on the remaining 490,000 kids out there in public schools. That’s what the problem is. We’ve got to have more teachers, better educated teachers, we’ve got to give more money for classroom expenses.”
Another issue he believes the state needs to take action on is Medicaid expansion.
“Thirty-seven states have done that now," noted Brown. "More than 15 with Republican governors have done that and it’s working. The state’s that have done that have seen improved economic outcomes and better health care outcomes. We just need to do that.”
But he’s quick to add this note.
“Let me make it clear, I’m not blaming Republicans for this," said Brown. “We’ve had these problems for a long time. It doesn’t make any difference who’s in charge. The people ought to be in charge. And if you take polls of what people want ask them about healthcare, ask them about educational outcomes, ask them about roads and bridges...that’s what they want. This legislature and this leadership needs to stand up and begin to address those issues.”
And he thinks it will take strong leadership to guide the state to better outcomes in the future.
“I’m hoping that these new leaders that we have in the state of Mississippi will step up and face the challenges,” said Brown.