Legislators give Gov. Bryant's State of State a thumbs up

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Pine Belt lawmakers applauded Gov. Phil Bryant’s “State of the State” pep rally in the House of Representatives’ chamber Tuesday night, praising the governor’s positive comments about the state’s economic development progress and the success of the third-grade reading scores.

“I liked his encouraging words, especially on economic development,” Brad Touchstone, R-Hattiesburg, said. “I thought it was important that he come forward with the positives as far as economic development. It is a good reminder that a lot of our priorities in the Legislature are for everybody.”

Touchstone said he was also glad to hear Bryant’s thoughts on expanding educational opportunities.

“Because our investment on the front end is education,” he said. “And that leads to the economic development. I also appreciate his bringing up the Civil Rights Museum in his speech. I thinks this gives the kids of today a chance to see the mistakes of the past.”

Rep. Bill Pigott, R-Tylertown, called Bryant’s comments “a pretty good speech.”

“I think he pointed out how the state is moving in the right direction,” he said. “We just need to keep improving. I think our main problem that we face in the Legislature is the state’s infrastructure with roads and bridges.”

“The governor did a marvelous job,” said Rep. Ken Morgan, R-Morgantown. “He hit a lot of very good points about the state’s economy, especially with the unemployment being at a record low.”

Morgan said Bryant also emphasized the important roles that community colleges play in workforce training, seeking to establish the Mississippi Work Scholarship Fund.

“The scholarship fund is something I have always thought about,” he said. “We have community college students that deserve a scholarship for going into the welding business.”

Morgan added, “The state certainly has something to be proud of. In the next couple of years, you’re going to see improvement around the state.”

“The governor is a very gifted orator,” Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, said after the speech. “Overall, I thought his speech was very positive and very upbeat.”

Fillingane agreed with Bryant that the state’s economy is improving.

“The revenue picture has really back up what (Bryant) is saying,” he said. “Clearly, we could be better and I hope we will improve. … The last couple of months (of tax revenue) has mostly been at or above expectations. While the nation has seen an increase in spending, I think we are seeing that same optimism in Mississippi as well.”

Fillingane also praised Bryant’s comments on the success of the third-grade reading test scores and the emphasis on workforce training.

In a statement, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves also complimented Bryant on his speech.

“We have a lot of good news happening in Mississippi that doesn’t always stay in the headlines, and I appreciate Gov. Bryant for shining a light on our accomplishments and job growth,” he said. “Unemployment is at a record low, we’re seeing job creation around the state and, most importantly, we’re seeing gains in the classroom through the hard work of our students and teachers.”