JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Tuesday marked the beginning of a 4-month legislative session in the Mississippi House of Representatives and Senate. This is the first year of a 4-year term and about one-fourth of the legislators are new.
District 56 Republican Phillip Gunn was chosen as Speaker of the House. In the Senate, District 31 Republican Terry Burton was selected as President Pro-Tempore. Burton says he expects balancing a $6 billion budget to be one of this year’s biggest challenges. According to Burton, “The revenue numbers are down again so we’re behind where we projected we would be at this point so we have some budget challenges that we have to deal with.”
Burton serves second in command to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Reeves says education funding is one of his top priorities, “Continue to support the quality of the education attainment level of our citizens in Mississippi. It’s extremely important for our long-term economic growth and prospects that we improve the educational attainment level of our citizens.”
Dr. Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education, was also at the Capitol Tuesday. Wright says, “We’d love to see an increase in early childhood. We’d love to see more money for the literacy based promotion act. We’ve done some amazing things with our coaches and in the field and professional development and we need to continue to support that.”
Bills must be presented by January 26, 2016. Legislators will also, likely, tackle controversial topics like changing the state flag. Reeves says, “I don’t think there should be unilateral action by the governor to change the flag. I don’t think there should be unilateral action by the legislature to change the flag. If there is going to be a change it should be a change led by the people. The people spoke into thousand one and it should be the people that decide to change the flag.”
Tax cuts and infrastructure improvements are also expected to be hot topics this session.