By Brian Livingston / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told a nearly packed Meridian Rotary Club luncheon Wednesday he and the state's lawmakers worked hard to make Mississippi a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.
Reeves said legislators passed laws benefitting job creation and education.
"My goal as the leader of the Senate was to listen to the members to find out what they were passionate about," said Reeves, who served two terms as the state treasurer prior to his election to lieutenant governor in 2011. "The best legislation is one in which the members all have an interest."
Reeves said the top priority of the past legislative session was to address job creation. He said cutting taxes for small businesses, such as the elimination of the inventory tax, will help create more jobs and give small businesses an opportunity to take that money and reinvest in their businesses, sparking growth.
"The government is not supposed to create jobs," Reeves said. "We are, however, obligated to create a favorable environment so that industry and businesses in the state can create jobs."
Reeves said legislation passed that reformed workers compensation helped both the business owner and the worker. He said the reform package should save the owner money while at the same time providing the benefits to those who are injured on the job.
Reeves said he is proud the Legislature passed a budget on time and that for the first time in 10 years the state is able to put some money away in a rainy day nest egg.
Much of his time speaking was spent on education.
"If we are going to compete with other states in drawing in industries and businesses to Mississippi then we need to make a commitment to funding education," he said.
To that end, funding for K-12 and community colleges was increased, Reeves said.
"The parents, school administrators, teachers and students all need to raise the bar if we are to be competitive for jobs and industries," Reeves said. "One way we are doing that is changing the rating system for schools and districts."
Following a model begun in 1999 by Florida state officials, Reeves said Mississippi has gotten rid of the old seven tier system he called confusing and mostly inaccurate. Instead, the state has adopted a simpler, more familiar system in which to grade schools and districts and in the process hold them accountable.
Instead of ratings of "superior" or "successful" used to designate grades for schools and districts in the past, Reeves said now letter grades of A, B, C, D, and F, will be used. He said these are "grades" everyone identifies with when it comes to gauging success or failure.
"We want to raise the level of expectations," Reeves said. "I think this can and will work in our state."