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Gov. Bryant State of the State promises no new taxes, ‘Blue Lives Matter’ law

By   /   January 18, 2017  /   No Comments

Photo by the Mississippi Development Authority

WELCOME: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant welcomes Topship in a news conference earlier this year.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant delivered his annual State of the State speech at the Capitol Tuesday and here are three key takeaways:

No new taxes

Bryant didn’t say “read my lips,” but he all but ruled out any “burdensome” tax increase, offering instead for lawmakers to work with Department of Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson, the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Bryant wants lawmakers to make it easier for the DOR to “help collect taxes that are owed to the state and give more ability to the commissioner to settle tax issues that have lingered in arbitration or simply gone uncollected.”

There are no bills that would increase the state’s gasoline tax, or any tax for that matter, in the Mississippi Legislature, but one could be forthcoming after the Democrats emphasized they wanted to repair “the state’s crumbling infrastructure” in their pre-taped rebuttal. The deadline for action on any revenue-related bill by the originating chamber is Feb. 22.

Related: Gas tax hike likely on hold awaiting details on Trump infrastructure plan

Blue lives matter

A former deputy sheriff, Bryant said he supports a new law that would classify any crime against law enforcement as a hate crime. There are four separate “Blue Lives Matter” bills in the House that would offer increased legal penalties for crimes against law enforcement personnel.

Bryant said one of the reasons he supported the legislation was that “law enforcement was under attack” nationally. He mentioned two incidents last year in Mississippi, the wounding of three Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents during a raid and the death of Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Special Agent Lee Tartt during a hostage situation.

State Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said on Facebook after the speech that he was “committed to bringing forward Blue Lives Matter legislation from the Judiciary B Committee as he [Bryant] discussed.” Gipson chairs the House Judiciary B Committee.

K-12 education funding formula

The governor came out strongly on the side of Republican lawmakers who are working to rewrite the state’s nearly 20-year-old K-12 education funding formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. A placeholder bill with the relevant code sections is already under consideration after nonprofit group EdBuild revealed its recommendations Monday to the Legislature.

Related: EdBuild unveils recommendations for new K-12 funding formula

“Like many of you, I believe we should devote resources to education programs that have consistently achieved their stated goal, and prioritize spending where the student gets the most good out of our investment,” Bryant said. “This priority should be in the classroom, not at central office.”

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Steve Wilson is the Mississippi reporter for Watchdog.org. Beginning his career as a sports writer, he has worked for the Mobile Press-Register (Ala.), the LaGrange Daily News (Ga.), Highlands Today (Fla.),McComb Enterprise-Journal (Miss.), the Biloxi Sun Herald(Miss.) and the Vicksburg Post (Miss.) Steve's work has appeared on Fox News, the Huffington Post and the Daily Signal. His bachelor's degree is in journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Alabama. Steve is also a member of the Mississippi Press Association and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He served four-plus years in the United States Coast Guard after his high school graduation and is a native of Mobile, Ala.