JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA) - In his second State of the State Address, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves put a spotlight on Mississippians’ resiliency and their ability to overcome hardships they faced in 2020 and continue to face in 2021.
Mississippians faced tornadoes, hurricanes last year and continue to battle the coronavirus.
“As we saw on Easter Sunday, this is a state of people who won’t let a tornado leave the ground before arriving with chainsaws to clear their neighbors’ land. As we saw after [Hurricane] Zeta, it is a state of people who won’t let the waves of a hurricane rush back to the sea before ensuring their neighbor has food and warmth. We are a state of people who step up, time and again, and have exceeded all expectations this year.”
“We’ve been cautious, never panicked,” he said of the pandemic. “We’ve been safe, but not stubborn. Life cannot be lived in perpetual idleness and isolation. We realized that, and we’ve adapted our plans throughout the year--responding swiftly when the spread was most severe and opening up whenever it is possible.”
In his address, the governor said despite the pandemic, the state’s economy grew year-over-year.
“We were the third-best state in the country for job recovery. We had more tourism spending return than any other state in the country--we were number one!”
He credits Mississippians' desire to work.
Reeves looked to the future and said Mississippi cannot stay content with its current position.
“I don’t want to compete with the Mississippi of the last fifty years. I don’t want to compete with Mississippi of the last decade. I don’t want to compete with Mississippi of last year. I want to compete with the best--Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas. Because I know we can compete, and I know we can win.”
To move Mississippi’s economy and workforce forward, Reeves said Mississippi “must think big” and needs a “bold move.”
“This is the time for an action that will turn heads all across the country and get money and people flowing in. And I believe that move is the elimination of the income tax. It is a reward for our hard workers, and an incentive for others to invest here, to grow here, and to live here.”
Mississippi lawmakers are currently in the process of giving teachers a pay raise. Reeves said he’ll be eager to sign any raise that lawmakers send him.
“Our teachers have earned it. It’s the right way to invest.”
Currently, Mississippi, like much of America, is trying to deliver as many vaccines to Mississippians as possible and available.
"Last weekend, we celebrated 100,000 vaccines delivered. That took us about six weeks. We’ve done another 100,000 vaccinations since then, and as we speak we are likely delivering our 200,000th vaccine! That’s because we refused to accept a slow pace--we went from the worst state in the country at the beginning of the process to operating at peak capacity."
The governor said vaccinations are his number one priority.
"I promise that we will smash every roadblock. We will get this done as safely and quickly as we possibly can, and allow people to protect themselves from the virus. It is my most immediate priority, and I assure you it has my full attention."
Lastly, Reeves said his personal goal is to "cultivate more empathy."
"We’ll always have spirited debate and disagreement. You can fight for what you believe in, while honoring the man or woman on the other side. Above all we have to understand that every Mississippian--every American--is on the same team. We all want to be treated with grace. And we’re all made in the image of a perfect God. So, my goal is to act like it."