Waller on Issues, Solving Problems

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Bill Waller, a Democrat, served as governor of Mississippi from 1972 to 1976. The outspoken lawyer shared advice for the new governor and state legislature.

"We have the highest interest rate in the world. We pay 300% annually at the pawn shops, 36% at the small loan companies. There's 610 small loan companies in 82 counties, which means that most people are paying 30-36% for consumer small loans, $500 to $5,000. Get some consumer laws changed," said Waller. "Then I would go into research and development. The Delta's flat on its back. We don't process what we grow."

"I think the unavailability of venture capital for young people in our state has held us back for 100 years. Henry Ford borrowed $3,000, bought a bicycle shop and later became the world's largest automobile manufacturer out a $3,000 loan," Waller said. "We can't borrow $3,000 in Mississippi. The banks are not into venture capital."

Asked what he thought of Governor-elect Barbour's campaign promise for further tort reform, Waller scoffed.

"Baloney. It's already been done," he said. "I mean, there's nothing in our tort system now that's a deterrent. You know, I heard (Gov.) Barbour say that he was going to get more and better jobs through tort reform. I've been a lawyer a long time. I don't believe that will work."

However, Waller said he would like to play a role in the state's future.

"I want to help (Gov.) Barbour if I can or if it's within my power to revitalize, revolutionize, stimulate our internal growth," Waller said.

In the final segment of our interviews with former governors, William Winter, known as the "education governor."


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