We were humbled the night of Nov. 5 to receive more than 60 percent of the vote for lieutenant governor – an instruction from Mississippians to move forward with our plans to grow our economy, provide every child with quality public educational opportunities, make healthcare more accessible, and shore up our roads and bridges.
The morning of Nov. 6, the hard work began to put these plans into action.
My first objective was to set up personal meetings with each and every one of our 52 Senators, Republicans and Democrats. Forty-five meetings in, I am so encouraged by our discussions. I’ve learned a lot about my new colleagues’ professional and personal backgrounds, the needs in their districts, their preference on committee assignments, and their individual legislative goals.
I’ve also learned no matter our political differences, we all have a common goal: seeing Mississippi rise to its fullest potential.
During this transition period, we are also making headway on fulfilling a primary platform promise by increasing transparency at the State Capitol. In partnership with the Legislative Budget Office and Mississippi Public Broadcasting, we are working on piloting a program on the Senate side to webcast committee meetings in addition to floor debate. This will be the first time ever Senate committees have been available by webcast.
Our capitol may be physically located in Jackson, but we serve the entire state. Taxpayers deserve to know and observe how we are working together to solve challenges facing Mississippi without traveling a great distance.
Finally, we are in the process of identifying the policy initiatives we can immediately garner support for in the coming months. Some issues, like the gradual reorganization of government, will take contemplation and consensus-building during the break after the legislative session. Others, such as another much-needed pay raise for our teachers and other hard-working state employees, are immediately on our priority list in January.
Our public school teachers deserve our monetary support, as well as our respect – and we will be demonstrating both this legislation session.
The holiday season is about celebrating our faith, spending time with our families, and giving thanks for our blessings. This year, I am so grateful for the opportunity Mississippians in every corner of our state have given us. And I’m looking forward, as your next lieutenant governor, to working with all of you to make Mississippi an even better place for our children and grandchildren.