Lawmakers react to Governor Reeves’ executive budget recommendation

Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 9:30 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Each year, Mississippi’s governor releases an executive budget recommendation. It’s a way of letting the public and members of the legislature know where the governor’s funding priorities stand.

We asked lawmakers if they’re on board with the Governor Reeves' proposal to eliminate the income tax, phasing it out over the next ten years.

“My reaction was gosh... where are we going to get the money to plug that hole?" explained Sen. John Horhn-D. "It’s about a third of the budget. The income tax that is collected to the state general fund. So, you’re talking about a little over 2 billion dollars that you have to find a replacement for.”

Speaker Philip Gunn pointing out that the House has discussed doing away with the tax before and says he’s glad to hear the Governor is on the same page.

“We’d obviously have to look at the amount of revenue that that would effect and I suspect it will be a combination of finding alternative revenue but also implementing some cuts, as well," said Speaker Gunn.

On the education front, Reeves wants to create a “Patriotic Education Fund” that would include 3 million dollars in grants available to schools and non-profits.

“To fight back against the socialist indoctrination that some would attempt in this country," he described in Monday’s Facebook live video.

But there’s a mix of reactions, mostly along party lines about whether it’s needed.

“I’m for patriotic education that focuses on the greatness of America," said Sen. Chad McMahan-R. "Have we had problems here in America? Of course we have. Every country has but America is constantly striving to better itself, to better its people and to better our society.”

“It’s rhetoric," explained Rep. Chris Bell-D. "It’s racist. It’s disrespectful. There’s no way that in 2020 we should be talking about this. I understand that 2020 has given us some crazy thing with the pandemic and everything else that’s been going on. This is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard since I’ve been in this building.”

The Mississippi Association of Educators questions the Governor’s priorities.

“I get a lot of phone calls here at the office from educators across the state and not one mention of the history curriculum has been mentioned as educators call and speak with me," said MAE President Erica Jones. "They’re more concerned with not having enough textbooks in their classrooms, not having enough resources to provide for their students, not having the technology they need to do their jobs adequately.”

And Jones notes they’re concerned about what was left out of the EBR.

“A campaign promise was made for a teacher pay raise and I saw no mention of that in the budget plan,” added Jones.

We reached out to the Governor’s office to ask why it wasn’t included.

“We strongly believe that we can still find the funds to administer teacher pay raises,” said Bailey Martin, Press Secretary for Governor Tate Reeves. “Due to extremely conservative revenue estimates, the bulk of the money that was available for the priorities listed in the EBR were one time funds, not recurring revenue. So most of the projects that Governor Reeves proposes fall under that category, but we believe that we can fund a teacher pay raise and that will be a priority as recurring revenues continue to beat expectations.”

To view the full Executive Budget Recommendation, click HERE.

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