By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – New Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves promised to work to improve education so Mississippians are not leaving the state to find a job.
“We will start by improving the education attainment level of our students,” Reeves said Thursday in a packed House chamber where he was sworn in along with the other statewide winners of the November general election with the exception of the governor.
“We have to make sure that we’re providing access to a quality education for all of our people – black, white, rich and poor. We have to improve the early education curriculum to get children off to the best start possible. We have to put college within reach of every child who needs it.”
Reeves replaces Phil Bryant as the Senate’s presiding officer. Bryant will be inaugurated as governor Tuesday.
Reeves will preside in the Senate for the first time today where he is expected to announce committee assignments.
He said Thursday he would create a special Senate committee to look for ways to make state agencies more efficient.
Various state and federal elected officials attended the ceremony that would have represented a clean sweep for Republicans to statewide posts if not for the re-election of Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, and U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, were among those attending the swearing-in ceremony, as was outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour.
Reeves said if not for Barbour’s help in 2003 in his first election for state treasurer he might not had been on the House podium as the state’s lieutenant governor.
Reeves acknowledged recent economic successes, most achieved under Barbour’s tenure, such as Toyota at Blue Springs, but said, “We cannot let these successes lull us into a false sense of confidence … We cannot lose our intensity and focus on economic development. A big part of that is workforce training. We have to keep upgrading the skills of our workforce.”
Thursday marked the first time since the 1970s two women were sworn in to statewide offices. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven is commissioner of agriculture and commerce and Lynn Fitch of Madison is the new treasurer.