The Magnolia State can better encourage capital investment through improved education, low taxes and balanced budgets, said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves at Mississippi State's Furniture Summit.
At the Wednesday [April 23] gathering, Reeves spent more than half his keynote speech emphasizing the importance of education at all levels: from kindergarten through 12th-grade, through community college and university, and as part of workforce skills enhancement.
"Our role, government's role, is to create an environment which encourages those of you in private sector to invest capital and create jobs," Reeves said. "We can do that through education, and we are working very hard ... to make sure we create the environment where your business thrives," he continued.
He stressed the importance of reforming Mississippi's education system to attract the best teachers. Reeves listed recent education-focused reforms he considers successful: the new merit-pay system for teachers, a simplified school- and school districts-ranking system, consolidation of school districts and expanded opportunity for charter school development, among others.
"As leaders in our communities and leaders in our state, we need to talk about the value of education," he said. "We've got to become more efficient to ensure we're doing a good job of educating our kids.
"We need more high school graduates. We need more kids going to our community colleges and learning the skills that they can then provide for the workforce. Additionally, we need more college graduates in our state," Reeves said. "Everybody in our state must value education."
Reeves also stressed the importance of lightening the tax burden for Mississippi businesses to make them more competitive in the Southeast, throughout the U.S. and all over the world.
"We want to make sure every business correctly and lawfully pays its taxes, but not in a way that puts an undue burden on them," he said.
Finally, using recurring revenues to pay recurring expenses is a critical part of maintaining a balanced budget without raising taxes, he said. Efficient spending of the resources already being acquired is very important.
The Furniture Summit is sponsored by MSU's Franklin Furniture Institute, America Home Furnishing Alliance and Mississippi Manufacturers' Association, as well as the MSU Extension Service and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center.
Learn more about the institute by visiting www.ffi.msstate.edu.