Barbour makes farewell speech to Miss. lawmakers

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — As Gov. Haley Barbour gave his farewell speech to Mississippi legislators Wednesday, he focused on how to approach their jobs, particularly with taxes, spending and regulation.

“I promise you, eight years ago, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But it turned out to be a bunch,” he said, urging lawmakers to be patient with each other and with the new House and Senate leaders and incoming governor.

The 64-year-old Republican leaves office when his second term ends Jan. 10. He will be succeeded by Republican Phil Bryant.

He said his wife, Marsha, did not attend his speech Wednesday to a joint session of the Mississippi Legislature because the Barbours are moving out of the Governor’s Mansion.

“We’ve been tenants at the nicest public housing in Mississippi over the past eight years,” Barbour said.

Barbour urged lawmakers to keep taxes and fees as low as possible. He said families and businesses can do more if they get to keep more of what they earn.

Barbour said everybody should pay some taxes, and he said a large chunk of Mississippi’s revenue comes from the 7 percent sales tax.

“The state consumption taxes mean everybody pays something,” he said.

Barbour said the federal government should allow states to collect taxes on sales made over the Internet.

“This is not about spending. This is about being able to collect the money that is already owed to us,” Barbour said.

Barbour plans to travel as a paid speaker and work for BGR, the Washington lobbying firm he helped found two decades ago. He said he will write a book on responding to natural disasters.