Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann was the keynote speaker at a membership luncheon of the Desoto Council held this week at the Landers Center.
Hosemann highlighted the legislative high points from the 2020 year. Which included $300 million in funding for small business relief, $200 million towards education and distance learning, the reorganization of the state workforce board, and funding to hospitals to help with COVID-19 complications.
One of the aspects of the 2021 economic plan includes a teacher pay raise. Hosemann said that this is a critical aspect for quality education. In addition to the pay raise, the state has also allocated funding to help pay for teachers’ loan payments.
The legislature is also looking at improving Medicaid. The Medicaid Technical bill controls how Mississippi will spend about $6 billion towards healthcare.
“It will go into the study of healthcare in Mississippi, and it’s time to do that,” Hosemann said. “It's been half a century since the government adopted Medicaid, and it needs some attention.”
Mississippi is also taking part in college athlete compensation programs. This initiative will allow college athletes to earn compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness. The program also allows Mississippi to be more competitive in recruiting athletes to its universities.
Hosemann said the program will be very beneficial to the athletes affected by it.
“Those kids deserve to take advantage of such a great economic opportunity,” Hosemann said.
The Mississippi National Guard has also been rewarded with more funding. Hosemann said that they have been a savior to Mississippi during the COVID-19 pandemic and relief efforts and deserve the $5 million funding.
Hosemann said the total budget for the 2021 legislative year is $6.3 billion. This budget will go to other expenditures such as pay raises for state employees, increases in other key areas, broadband expansion in rural areas, and a new transportation bill.
Looking ahead into the 2022 year, Hosemann said the MFLEX Bill is in the works. Hosemann said that the MFLEX Bill is a flexible, clear, and transparent economic development plan with incentives that are performance based rather than promise based. Senator David Parker of Olive Branch has been working on the MFLEX.
Hosemann also spoke about Desoto County’s growth over the past several years. In 1990, DeSoto County had a population of just 60,000 people. Now, there are 184,945 people. Hosemann said the increasing populous is due to many factors including great educational opportunities for children and safety.
“Everything you want in a community, you have here in DeSoto County,” Hosemann said.