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Democratic Rebutal to Governor...

Democratic Rebutal to Governor Barbour’s Agenda

By: Magnolia Tribune - January 22, 2008

Mississippi Democratic Party response
to Gov. Haley Barbour’s State of the State

JACKSON (Monday, Jan. 21, 2008) – Here is a transcript of the Mississippi
Democratic Party response to Gov. Haley Barbour’s State of the State speech.
The response aired on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television stations
immediately following Barbour’s speech.

Giving the Democratic Party response are Sen. David Jordan of Greenwood, a
member of the Mississippi Senate since 1993, and Rep. Cecil Brown of
Jackson, a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives since 2000.

• • • • •

SEN. DAVID JORDAN: Good evening. I’m Sen. David Jordan from Greenwood.

REP. CECIL BROWN: And I’m Rep. Cecil Brown from Jackson.

As we approach these next four years, you will hear some politicians brag
about how Mississippi has improved. And for many Mississippians, life is
better than it was four years ago.

If you work for one of the casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast or along
the Mississippi River, if you are in the construction business anywhere
around the state or if you are one of the lucky workers at Nissan or
Eurocopter, life can be good.

But for too many other Mississippians, things are worse.

If you live in South Mississippi, lost your house in Hurricane Katrina and
you can’t afford to rebuild, you aren’t doing very well.

If you were working for Sara Lee in West Point or Alan White Furniture in
Shannon or for anyone of the other dozens of businesses that have closed in
the last four years, life has been tough since you lost your job.

If you are one of those thousands of Mississippians who recently lost their
Medicaid coverage, you pray every day that nobody in your family gets too

If you are a college student whose tuition has increased beyond your means,
you either quit school or went deeper in debt to pay your bills.

If your local school taxes went up because the state did not fulfill its
commitments to fund your local schools, you probably just kept quiet and
paid the bill.

So things in Mississippi are better for some – but not for all. “Forward
Together” is a good slogan, but it does not mean anything unless the
emphasis is on “Together.”

We Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature don’t promise to fix all of the
problems I’ve just mentioned. But we promise to tell you the truth, to fix
what we can and to put the emphasis where it needs to be – on the working
people of this great state – together.

Democrats have and will continue to be good stewards of your state tax
money, making sure we direct it to such things as public education, health
care, Katrina recovery and economic development across the state including
the Mississippi Delta and Southwest Mississippi. Those are issues that are
vital to every resident of this state.

We always have made public education a top priority. That will continue once
again this year as Democrats in the state House and state Senate back full
funding for the Mississippi Adequate Education – the state’s basic funding
formula for kindergarten through 12th-grade – and additional funding for
education at all levels.

Year-in and year-out, Democrats have staunchly supported education. This
year we will work hard to ensure that the program is fully funded once
again, just like it was last year for the first time since 2003. We must do
that to ensure that every child in this state has access to at least a Level
3-quality public education.

SEN. DAVID JORDAN: But we must not stop there.

Democrats will work hard to increase funding for our state’s community
colleges and university system. Doing so will end the seemingly annual
tuition increases that only limit the ability of Mississippians to study and
earn a higher education degree.

Our commitment to education is critical because no other issue we face as a
state has a more direct impact on our future. We must offer our children the
best public education possible so we can train and prepare the leaders of
tomorrow – and preserve the future of this great state.

A strong public education system, from kindergarten through college, also
helps everyone by serving as an excellent recruiting tool that can and will
lure new business and industry to our state – and, therefore, help create
new jobs.

Health care also is another major issue – including Medicaid, a
state-federal program that helps pay for health care for the needy, blind,
disabled and low-income families with children.

Mississippi must continue to maintain the level of care currently provided
to our residents. At the same time, we must try to find new sources of
revenue to cover the $260 million shortfall in state Medicaid funding.

Some people have suggested a tax levied on hospitals, something first
proposed in 2006. But state lawmakers should be cautious before embracing
the first proposal that appears – especially something that could be passed
along to hospital patients and end up funding Medicaid on the backs of the
sick and infirm.

We must look for other funding alternatives. And we must make sure education
and health care are the top budget priorities, fund those items first and
then fund the rest of the state government with the money that remains.

Finally, as Democrats, we stand ready to do whatever we can to help
residents in South Mississippi continue to recover from Katrina. While some
Democrats like me hail from other regions of the state, we realize that
helping all areas – from South Mississippi to the Mississippi Delta and
Southwest Mississippi – moves everyone forward.

Here we are, 2½ years after the worst natural disaster in our history – in
our nation’s history – and people still live in trailers on the Mississippi
Gulf Coast. Democrats in the Legislature assure you we will work hard to
find a solution to the housing shortage and insurance problems that are
keeping so many of our residents from returning home.

REP. CECIL BROWN: The bottom line is this: Democrats in the Mississippi
Legislature are ready to work with anyone. Our goal is clear: We want, and
we will, make this life better for everyone in Mississippi and not just a
select few.

We don’t have all the answers, but we have the determination to do the best
we can. The people of Mississippi deserve that.

Thank you and good night.

SEN. DAVID JORDAN: Good night.

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.
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