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Prominent Business Leaders Call on...

Prominent Business Leaders Call on Mississippi Legislature to Pass Universal School Choice Bill

By: Russ Latino - February 29, 2024

  • Sixty business leaders have called on the Mississippi Legislature to pass universal school choice.

House Education Committee Chairman Rob Roberson filed HB 1449, the Mississippi Student Freedom Act. The bill, as written, would phase in a universal school choice program that would allow every child in Mississippi the option of attending the school of their choice within five years of passage.

Sixty prominent business leaders from across the state have sent a letter to Governor Tate Reeves, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, Speaker Jason White, and legislative leadership in support of the legislation, and more broadly, empowering families to make decisions about what is best for their children when it comes to education.

Signatories including the likes of C Spire CEO Hu Meena, former Ambassador Mike Retzer, William Mounger II, Wirt Yerger III, and Chip Crane, among others.

Several of the people listed in the letter have not only built some of Mississippi’s most successful companies, but also have been pivotally involved in building and supporting the Republican Party in Mississippi.

Letter organizer Abb Payne runs the Payne Companies.

“States all over the country, especially the South, are moving to give parents more education options and we just didn’t want to see Mississippi left behind,” Payne told Magnolia Tribune. “If Mississippi is improving at a slower rate than our neighboring states, we’re losing.”

Payne said he got involved because he realized the business community had not been engaged in the conversation on school choice. He explained that his family had been fortunate to have education options to help his daughter, who has dyslexia, and he believes every family should be empowered with those type of options. “Just imagine how many kids would benefit if we gave school choice to families all over Mississippi who couldn’t afford those same options.”

Payne said that once word got out about the letter, leaders came “out of the woodwork” to sign on.

“These leaders know what it takes to grow a business and having an educated workforce is critical. School choice has worked everywhere it’s been tried and it’s time we made it widely available in Mississippi,” offered Payne.

A full copy of the letter sent to leaders is copied below.

About the Author(s)
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Russ Latino

Russ is a proud Mississippian and the founder of Magnolia Tribune Institute. His research and writing have been published across the country in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today, The Hill, and The Washington Examiner, among other prominent publications. Russ has served as a national spokesman with outlets like Politico and Bloomberg. He has frequently been called on by both the media and decisionmakers to provide public policy analysis and testimony. In founding Magnolia Tribune Institute, he seeks to build on more than a decade of organizational leadership and communications experience to ensure Mississippians have access to news they can trust and opinion that makes them think deeply. Prior to beginning his non-profit career, Russ practiced business and constitutional law for a decade. Email Russ:
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