Reeves’ visit included stops at the courthouse, hospital, The Alliance and downtown, as well as a visit to the Burnsville Industrial Park.
In a talk before a joint meeting of Corinth civic clubs at Pizza Grocery, he said he enjoyed visiting the downtown “and seeing the enormous amount of capital investment that is flowing into Corinth … Y’all have a lot of good things going on, and I think that is something that needs to be said. It’s because of the great leadership in this room and the great leadership in this community both from a political standpoint and from a business community that drives that.”
He believes the state has good things to talk about, as well.
“I believe we should spend a lot less time apologizing and a lot more time bragging about a lot of the good things that are going on in Mississippi,” said Reeves.
He talked about the state budget and criticized media reporting on mid-year cuts.
“There is a difference between budget cuts and spending cuts,” he said. “That is a very important distinction to make when talking about budgets, when talking about government finance and when talking about what’s transpired over the last 15 months in Mississippi.”
The state’s new fiscal year began July 1.
“Our revenues are actually far exceeding expectations for the first three months this fiscal year, which is a positive thing,” said Reeves. “We’re actually up about $25 million year-over-year compared to our actual budget amount. We’re up about $35 million year-over-year compared to last year, so we’re continuing to see revenue growth. That’s about 6 percent year-over-year growth. I don’t anticipate that will continue throughout the entire fiscal year, but, if we can have revenue growth in the 1 to 2 percent range — we actually projected that we would have zero growth this year — we will find ourselves in a very, very strong financial position.”
The state’s rainy-day fund currently holds a little more than $300 million — the fourth-largest balance in the history of the fund, although he acknowledges it has decreased some.
“I would submit to you that, from a fiscal standpoint, Mississippi is probably in better financial shape than we’ve been at any time since the late 1990s,” said Reeves, and probably better “than most state governments who have made the decision to continue to spend even when revenue did not meet expectations.”
With principal and interest holding steady while the budget has expanded, the state is spending 6.5 to 7 percent of the operating budget on principal and interest, freeing up about $200 million to spend on services, he said.
Reeves also touted education legislation in recent years. He expects measures such as the literacy-based promotion act, which requires third-graders to pass a reading test in order to advance, to pay off in years to come.