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Reeves urges lawmakers to stress economy, education in annual address

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(The Center Square) – Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves told lawmakers in his annual State of the State speech on Monday that he wants their focus on economic and educational issues.

The two-term Republican, as part of his message, also said he wants more school choice options for parents.

“We must take full advantage of the Mississippi Miracle and ensure our workforce grows beyond most improved and into the most undeniable,” Reeves said. “You know how drastically we have improved our schools, and that the nation’s education reformers are all asking how they do what has been done in Mississippi. We’ve gone from bad to good. Now, we must discover how to go from good to great.

“We must be innovative. We must be open to new and different models. We should fund students, not systems. We should trust our parents, not bureaucrats, and we should embrace education freedom.”

One of those proposals was to create 12 mathematics and engineering magnet schools statewide, with eight having pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and the other three as high schools.

“We can help to ensure Mississippi kids are given the education required to be successful in an increasingly technological economy,” Reeves said.

Reeves said transportation infrastructure is key to growing the state’s economy, along with helping local governments prepare sites for potential development.

He proposed the creation of a state rail authority that would manage taxpayer funds spent on building and maintaining rail networks and adopt a statewide strategy for rail.

He also recommended lawmakers appropriate funds to deal with a maintenance backlog with the state’s ports, including the Port of Vicksburg on the Mississippi River and the Port of Gulfport on the Mississippi Sound.

In addition to talking about expanding hangar capacity at the state’s airports, Reeves recommended lawmakers give the Mississippi Department of Transportation alternative delivery methods to complete construction projects.

“We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in MDOT’s maintenance and capacity road-building projects over the last four years, and we should continue these investments, with a plan for the future,” Reeves said. “Speed to market is critical, and that is why MDOT must use these resources to quickly develop a strategy to evaluate needed improvements at our top site development locations around the state.”

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