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Breaking down Gov. Tate Reeves’ 2022 State of the State address

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 10:16 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Governor Tate Reeves delivered his third State of the State address Tuesday and he addressed everything from education to Jackson crime.

The speech didn’t contain any surprises. Instead, it closely mirrored the priorities he previously outlines in his Executive Budget Recommendation.

“The state of our state is not only strong, but stronger than it has ever been,” said Reeves.

The Governor took the opportunity to brag on the state’s educational gains in recent years. But also issued a couple of calls to action on the education front. First, he asked the legislature to invest in math coaches. Then, he said it’s time to give teachers a raise.

“Teachers in Mississippi did not, and will not, back down amid this unprecedented educational battle between a virus and a child’s right to learn,” noted Reeves. “That is why we must give our teachers the pay raise they deserve.”

He didn’t mentioned a dollar amount he’d like to see this time but the House and Senate have already passed their own versions out of their respective chambers.

And then, it was onto a topic that sparked a walkout in the Senate just last week.

“Today, I am calling on the State Board of Education to adopt the values that combat critical race theory in their educational efforts,” noted Reeves. “To affirm that Mississippi’s public educators will not indoctrinate students in ideology that insists this country, or this state, are inherently racist. We will not teach that your race determines your status as a victim or oppressor. The legislature can bolster that effort by passing legislation to this effect. "

The Governor called it a “looming threat,” but Senators said during last week’s floor debate that it’s not being taught in any Mississippi schools. Another priority for Reeves centers around boosting the workforce and bolstering the efforts to train people for higher paying jobs.

“In my most recent Executive Budget Recommendation, I proposed allocating $130 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to support this effort,” said Reeves.

He’s hopeful more jobs could be possible with a significant change by lawmakers.

“I am begging Mississippi legislators to be bold,” explained Reeves. “If we can eliminate the income tax, we will achieve an historic victory for this state. We can become a place that money flows more freely, and all Mississippians will benefit.”

While there wasn’t a specific call to action surrounding the next steps if the Supreme Court rules in Mississippi’s favor on the 15-week abortion ban, the Governor made this promise:

“In the coming months, we will be promoting plans to further protect mothers in our state,” said Governor Reeves. “To ensure that they don’t just receive the basics, that they get the best possible care during their pregnancy. We will work to make it even easier to adopt a Mississippi child into a forever home. We will go further than preventing abortion.”

He called for action in addressing the Capital City’s crime problem, including a doubling of the Capitol Police force. And he finished up the speech with a back-the-blue focus with two asks of the legislature.

“I authorized $1,000 in one-time hazard pay for each sworn state law enforcement officer who actively served during the COVID-19 State of Emergency,” he noted. “Today, I call on the legislature to do the same for local law enforcement.”

He also made this request.

“This session, we need to appropriate additional money towards the Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters Death Benefits Trust Fund. Doing so will be a final act of gratitude to the men and women who gave it all to keep us safe.”

The Governor also made note of a desire to see more investment in re-entry and work release programs within the Department of Corrections. He says it’s already proving to keep people from returning to prison when they have the training needed to go back to the real world with a job.

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