Governor appointees lead in tough economic times - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Governor appointees lead in tough economic times

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Governor Phil Bryant introduced the newly appointed heads of his administration last week.

Among them are familiar faces, as well as executives new to government who Bryant said will help him move Mississippi forward.

Bryant named holdovers from the previous administration along with past directors and three news executives to lead state agencies.

"What I tried to do is get a really good mixture of those that were serving and had been doing a good job," said Governor Bryant.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps remains and says more than 21,300 inmates are incarcerated in the state penal system.

"Our recidivism rate over a three year period being 28% while the national average is 52%. I feel that the cost per day being $41.00. The national average is $62.00. I felt that by providing public safety that we had done our job," said Epps.

New to state government is Dr. David Dzielac who will head the Medicaid Division.

More than 640,000 are on the Medicaid roles.

"We need to be ready for the Affordable Care Act if that actually passes...Getting the state in shape for that is gonna be one of the biggest issues that's gonna face Medicaid in the future," said Dzielak.

Returning to lead the MEMA is Robert Latham who left the agency in 2006.

He is concerned about the state's earthquake preparedness.

"A major earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone will make Katrina look like a walk in the park...When you look at the Memphis area, the St. Louis area, major transportation corridors east, west , north, south, it could disrupt the entire economy of this country," said Latham.

Marshall Fisher continues to head the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

His major focus is prescription drug abuse.

"Most of the drug overdose deaths in this state occur from abuse of prescription narcotics...We have a big problem with doctor shopping. We have a problem with basically education for the public. It's more than just a law enforcement problem. It's a health issue," said Fisher.

The governor said the agencies will operate under a broken budget system.

"I just want all of Mississippi to get to know how broken it is. It has been politically manipulated for many, many years. It needs to be based on performance, not politics," said Governor Bryant.

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