JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Governor Phil Bryant is offering up his final legislative requests. Tuesday was his eighth and final State of the State address.
A big portion of the speech focused on education successes like the third grade reading gate, improved high school graduation rates, early childhood learning collaboratives, and charter schools. The Governor also called workforce development the highest priority. But his specific requests were limited.
He has three main asks of lawmakers but is leaving the details of each up to them.
“I now call on the members of this body to join me in giving teachers their second pay raise in five years," explained Bryant. “Send me a bill to authorize a pay raise for these most critical guardians of Mississippi’s future, and I will sign it.”
Bryant formed a school safety task force in 2018 and he says there are recommendations on the issue that came out of a year-long study.
“Unfortunately, a problem exists in our schools today that threatens children of all ages," said Governor Bryant. “It has become commonly known as the active shooter. Our schools, which once were a haven of security, have become a place of potential violence.”
Finally, he’s asking that lawmakers consider adding onto an issue they tackled in previous sessions.
“This session I will ask you to take the next step in criminal justice reform.”
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves notes that the 2014 criminal justice reforms have resulted in a significant drop in the Department of Corrections budget.
“One of the things that everyone can support is that those that are coming out of the system with an ability to go out and support themselves and support their families so they don’t turn back to whatever crime got them in the system in the first place," said Reeves. "And so I think we need more and better reentry programs.”
As for the state’s pocketbook?
“The state of our state is financially sound and better than we could have ever imagined," noted Bryant. "State revenues are reflective of an economy that is gaining and expanding.”
Democrats seemed mostly pleased with the speech but some wished their districts were seeing the results of the successes.
“Some of the bills that I have -- we will have no reason to say they can’t get funded because I heard the Governor say that we have the money," said Rep. Alyce Clarke. "Sounds like we can do what we should’ve been doing all the time.”
“Some of those jobs that he talked about, I wish they’d find themselves in the Delta," added Sen. Robert Jackson. "We need jobs really bad there.”
While the Governor did brag on the accomplishments since he’s been in office, he says he’s not done.
“Before 2020 sees its beginning, we will have more accomplishments and more transformative change,” said Bryant.
Democrats are also still holding out hope for Medicaid expansion, but Governor Bryant previously told WLBT that he is not in favor of it.
Click here to see the full transcript of the Governor’s speech.