Democratic Response - Rep. Tyrone Ellis - - Jackson, MS

Democratic Response - Rep. Tyrone Ellis

Good evening, I am Representative Tyrone Ellis of Oktibbeha County serving House District number 38. 

For over two years, I have had the honor of serving as Democratic leader in the Mississippi House of Representatives; and tonight, I have the great privilege of addressing you on the subject of the Democrat's agenda during this Legislative Session. 

Earlier, we heard from the Governor...that our great state is facing challenges unknown since the great depression.  Citizens are losing their jobs, businesses are closing, the building of new homes are at an all time low, and local and state governments are unable to meet their already stripped down budgets.

Services that our residents depend on, like education, transportation, law enforcement, and even life saving health care programs have already seen their funding cut.  Not with standing we've already been warned that greater cuts will come.  No one in Mississippi will go unaffected. 

Democrats in Mississippi recognize these problems, and Democrats in the Legislature also understand that we must be responsible stewards of the people's money and must work to produce a budget that is balanced. 

This economic collapse began on Wall Street, and now affects every state capitol; county court house, city hall and family home in America.  We in government must offer our citizens more than just bleak outlooks. Those of us, who hold office, must do more than complain about bad times.  We must find resolutions to these problems.  We must create solutions that actually work, and not simply put disaster off for one more year. 

Tonight, Democrats in Mississippi are prepared to negotiate with the governor in reducing the state budget, however, we ask the governor to join with us in finding long-term solutions to education, law enforcement, health care services, and other basic needs our citizens require of us.  First and foremost on the agenda are jobs. 

Putting our people back to work is the top and overriding priority of Mississippi Democrats.  A series of bills will be introduced to stimulate job creation. These bills will cut taxes and give tax credits to small businesses, provide money for industries looking to expand its work force and bring new opportunities to Mississippi, and create and protect jobs in every region of the state.

Working together we can offer the people of Mississippi more than just bad news, and, even more than just hope.

In the first five hours, after the opening of the 2010 Legislative session, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, passed two bills designed to immediately create jobs and open a new manufacturing facility.  This is an example of what public officials can do when we put people first and politics last.  We can offer our citizens a real plan for renewal and recovery. 

While we trim the budget here in Jackson, I want to take a moment to assure those of you who fear the closing of mental health crisis centers throughout our State what our position is and continues to be.  Democrats emphatically do not believe Mississippi can find its way out of this economic crisis by leaving the most vulnerable among us behind.  To them and their families, we reassure you, no crisis centers will close.  We know how important they are and their doors will stay open! 

As a sovereign State, we cannot and should not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of those who are less fortunate and can least afford it.  For too long we have depended on the antiquated and regressive sales tax to fund State Government.  As the experts on the economy will tell you, in a depressed economy, the first ones to stop spending are those who have less to spend. 

This state will also take care of its responsibilities to our state employees and their families. With that said, the Democratic House is committed to paying retirement in full. 

Tonight I would like to end where the future of our state begins.  Education, like all of our state programs including our schools; they will see budget cuts.  But, let's be clear. "Very clear."  Any cuts to education will be temporary, and must solve a real problem in education, not simply be used as a political ploy. No long-term economic success will come to Mississippi by slashing education funding, laying off teachers, doubling class room sizes and cutting important programs in sports, arts, and special education. 

Democrats know that everyone who receives state money will have to take a cut this year; however, we must be thorough in making sure we provide every available cent to the education budget. 

Times are tough, but Mississippians are accustomed to dealing with tough times. We know our journey through this bleak night is long. But, we will push through these bad times together, arm in arm.  No one left behind, no one left out.

Together we shall climb this mountain and cross into the valley ahead, for as the hymn says:  "When the dark midnight is over, watch for the breaking of day"

Thank you, may God bless you, and may he continue to bless our beloved state of Mississippi!!! Good night

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