By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant told the state’s chamber of commerce that Mississippians have much to be proud of – specifically their innovative spirit.
The first-term Republican governor, speaking to about 1,200 business leaders from across the state during the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Hobnob, said the innovative spirit and business-friendly legislation passed in recent years by a Republican-controlled Legislature are leading to economic growth for the state.
The annual event where the state’s business leaders hear from political leadership was moved from the grounds of the Mississippi Agriculture Museum to the Mississippi Coliseum because of rain.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said because of the policies being enacted by a Republican governor and Legislature, he does “not see our state continuing on the bottom. We will be moving up.”
In 2011, Republicans won control of both the Governor’s Mansion and the Legislature for the first time since the late 1800s.
Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Bryant all said the Republican governance has resulted in pro-business legislation that is making a difference for the state.
“Through landmark legislation in 2012 and 2013, we’ve undergone business, health care, tax and energy reform that will give companies choosing Mississippi a strong competitive edge in the marketplace,” Bryant said.
Bryant, citing several reports touting Mississippi as a business-friendly state, pointed out that the state’s economy surpassed $100 billion in 2012 for the first time and was continuing to grow. He proclaimed November as Innovation Month.
“This growth would not be possible without the innovative ideas and approaches that shape a business climate that is conducive to job growth and expansion,” he said.
“Economic development is a dynamic team sport, which means we must collaborate and be adaptable to market changes and industry trends.”
Reeves said, “All of us share the political philosophy that government does not create jobs. The government creates the environment that allows the private sector to create jobs.”
Attorney General Jim Hood, Mississippi’s only statewide Democratic elected official and thus the only Democrat to speak at Hobnob, called for more bipartisanship.
“We are electing people who get elected by being nasty to the other side,” Hood said. “…Hopefully, we can get past this business of fussing and fighting.”
Treasurer Lynn Fitch again reiterated her belief that Mississippi needs to require financial literacy be taught in the schools. She pointed out 40 percent of Mississippians have unpaid medical bills and 10 percent owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.
She said four states now require financial literacy classes in schools.
“I would like for us to be number 5 instead of number 50,” she said.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, viewed as a likely candidate for the U.S. Senate if incumbent Thad Cochran does not run next year, spoke of the problems in Washington and how he has cut the budget for his office while spending on the federal level has continued to increase.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney called the enactment of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “a train wreck” and said the exchange would be working better in Mississippi if his office, instead of the federal government, was running it. Chaney’s effort to run the exchange was blocked by Bryant, who has said he opposes any involvement by the state with the Affordable Care Act.
Both Republican U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper of Rankin County and Alan Nunnelee of Lee County spoke and criticized the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.