JACKSON — JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in his State of the State speech Wednesday that he wants to hire more Highway Patrol troopers, focus on job development, improve the budget process and continue trying to reduce the teen pregnancy rate.
He said the University of Mississippi Medical Center and private companies are launching a program to expand care for diabetics.
And, Bryant said he wants to add the slogan "In God We Trust" to the state seal, a proposal that received a standing ovation from some legislators and other elected officials in a packed House chamber at the Capitol.
Republican Bryant, who's beginning his third year as governor, said he wants to make the prison system less expensive and more efficient.
"I have no sympathy for violent or career criminals, and I believe that any modification to the correctional system should put the victim first," said Bryant, who started his career as a deputy sheriff.
The governor is asking lawmakers to approve a project to use the ACT as a high school exit exam to replace existing subject-area tests in math and other subjects.
He noted that when he took office in January 2012, Mississippi's unemployment rate was 9.4 percent, and it's now 8.3 percent. He introduced Tadaharu Yamamoto, president of Yokohama Tire Manufacturing Mississippi, who was in the public gallery overlooking the House floor. The company plans to start hiring in February for the plant it will open in West Point.
"Yokohoma Tire could have placed its new plant anywhere in the world," Bryant said. "Every state in the nation would have been honored to have this great company and its new facility. ... Mr. Yamamoto, I thank you for your confidence in our state, and I look forward to deepening our friendship and our business ties. I wish your company many years of success in Mississippi."