JACKSON, MISS– The first gavel-in for the legislative session is just two weeks away. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said there is much to be accomplished this coming year.
“I think you’ll see a concerted effort with the Speaker, Governor, and I to work together and I to pass some good strong legislation,” said Lt. Gov. Reeves. “Our goal is to make Mississippi the best place in America for job creation.”
Lt. Gov. Reeves said up to 3,000 bills are expected to be filed this year, but the goal will be in mind.
“We’re going to ask for each bill; Does this legislation help create private sector jobs?” said Lt. Gov. Reeves.
The BP Oil Spill settlement will be another hot ticket item on the legislative floor. There’s $750 million coming in over a 17-year period, and how it will be spent is up to the lawmakers.
“I believe we should spend the vast majority of that money on the three coastal counties,” said Lt. Gov. Reeves, citing the damage that the counties suffered after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP Oil Spill in 2010.
The BP Oil spill money, however, does not have to be appropriated immediately, and likely won’t be, according to Lt. Gov. Reeves.
“When it comes to any taxpayer dollars, I’d rather get it done right than get it done quick,” said Lt. Gov. Reeves. “I’d rather not spend a penny of it if we don’t have good, quality projects that have been vetted and make long-term economic sense.”
But BP settlement money is not the only item being evaluated for long-term economic sense. Over the past several months, legislative budget groups have heard from state agencies on various aspects of spending– commodities, contracts, travel, etc.– to see if there were any cuts to be made or duplications to be discovered.
“If you show me someone who says that every state government agency is as efficient as can be, I’ll show you someone who is not taking the truth,” said Lt. Gov. Reeves. “The fact of the matter is, we have agencies that are complaining about the amount of money they have, some which are legitimate, by the way, and some who are not.”
Cuts for state travel were listed in the Legislative Budget Recommendation.
“We included a 20 percent cut,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. “That’s a nearly $13 million savings.”
That sets state agencies back to the amount of funding for travel they had in 2012, which is a move Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said makes sense in the long run.
Education will also be one of the top topics, with EdBuild having been hired to evaluate and make suggestions on how to change the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula.
“They’ve traveled the state and spoken to hundreds of teachers, administrations, parents, and the media… we’re looking forward to their suggestions,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “The goal is to make our school funding formula work. There is broad agreement.. that the current formula is outdated and it doesn’t work. There’s not enough consistency from year to year.”
The legislative session begins January 3 and will run for 90 business days.