• Gov. Haley Barbour
Gov. Haley Barbour focused much of his Jan. 9 State of the State Address on reassuring Mississippians that their state’s economy would recover following Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of many Gulf Coast communities.
Hurricane Recovery: He backed a plan to allow local impact fees on residential and commercial development during a recovery period to help coastal communities make up for lost tourism taxes.
Finance: Mr. Barbour, a Republican, called for making education funding a legislative priority, and urged the Democratic-controlled legislature to reconsider an education package he proposed last year: the UpGrade Education plan. Both legislative chambers approved the bill in 2005, but it stalled when K-12 education budget talks broke down, requiring a special session. (“New Mississippi Budget Draws Mixed Reviews,” June 8, 2005.)
Among the package’s many proposals: performance pay for teachers, allowing high school students to take more college classes, a loosening of state regulations for high-rated schools, and new efforts to recruit teachers.
“Education is the number-one economic-development issue and the number-one quality of life issue in our state,” Gov. Barbour said.