By Delbert Hosemann
Some politicos say the agenda during an election year is always pared down to bare necessities. Not this year.
From transportation to education, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office is preparing a full slate of conservative legislation. Here are our top priorities:
Tax Rebate. This year, the largest tax cut in Mississippi history begins to phase in. Moving to a four percent flat income tax will make our State’s rate one of the nation’s lowest. With excess cash on hand and a difficult economic time likely on the way, we support sending an additional check back to taxpayers this Session. A rebate will help balance our economy as we face a recession and give hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars back to those who paid them.
Infrastructure. This term has been marked by a deluge of one-time funding, both from the federal government and a strong economy. Instead of “frittering” (a Warren County term) this money away on short-term special projects, your Legislature put $750 million in water and sewer, and $230 million in roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure—decisions which will reap generational benefits.
We will double down on those efforts this year, bringing forward another multi-hundred-million-dollar package.
Education. The single best investment we can make in our State is in a child’s brain, beginning with paying classroom teachers salaries befitting of their responsibilities. In the last two years, teachers have seen an average pay bump of more than $6,000, making jobs in Mississippi competitive with neighboring states.
This Session, we will continue this trajectory by proposing a significant increase in the MAEP funding formula for schools and a grant program for innovative districts willing to try modifying their calendar. Spreading out instructional days throughout the school year is a tremendous opportunity to provide our children with a world-class education and give educators much-needed intermittent breaks.
Pro-Life. Being pro-life must mean supporting our mothers and babies. In public hearings this fall, Senator Nicole Boyd (R-Oxford) helped us understand where we are succeeding in this mission and where we need work. At the top of our list this year is extending postpartum care. Our State is one of only two in the nation which does not offer working women healthcare for more than sixty days after giving birth.
Mississippi led in overturning Roe v. Wade. Now we must lead in giving our children and their parents the best chance of success in life. We are hopeful the House will join in this effort this Session.
Efficiency. Last year, we paid down $294 million in principal bond debt. We will pay another $305 million this year. We have also decreased the size of government by restructuring some agencies and eliminating thousands of unnecessary positions through attrition. Now more than ever before, your government is being run like a business.
This year will not be a typical election year in the Mississippi Senate.
We started this four-year term in 2020 by successfully navigating a pandemic (which reduced our budget by two percent), a crisis in our corrections system, and multiple devastating weather events. Now, we have a more than $2.6 billion in unallocated funds in your State treasury. This is in contrast to undisciplined states like California, which is staring down a $25 billion deficit.
We are going to end this term with the same conservatism, energy, and work ethic with which we started it—all in the endless pursuit of making our State an even better place for our children and grandchildren.
Delbert Hosemann is Lt. Governor for the State of Mississippi.