Musgrove Urges Flag Vote

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove started his second annual state of the state address by urging lawmakers to let the people of Mississippi decide the fate of our state flag. Hundreds of listeners filled the House chambers to hear the Governor say education should be the state's top priority.

With the budget being the driving force of the 2001 legislative session, Gov. Musgrove said very little about it.

"During this critical legislative session we can't waste our time whining about why not," Gov. Musgrove said. "We need to stay focused on how we will About half of the states are grappling with slowing growth just like we are."

The governor also requested state agency heads be given the authority to allocate their own spending instead of the legislature regulating it.

Rep. Jim Simpson, R-Pass Christian, says lawmakers should look at the idea, but he doesn't think it's prudent at this time.

"The budget's so tight I think that we'll have to make some tough choices and obtain a little more control than we would in a year when it wasn't so difficult,." Rep. Simpson said.

One thing the governor did not mention was pay raises for state employees. Musgrove said the priority for the state workers this year is stabilizing the health insurance program and making sure premiums don't continue rising.

One state lawmaker was disappointed.

"I thought not only should we talk about health care but we should also talk about their raise so they can feed their families," Rep. Jim Evans, D-Jackson, said.  He also said that lawmakers should look into places like the rainy day fund and the tobacco trust fund to find money for state employees.