Gov. Haley Barbour emphasized quality education is the number one economic development Mississippi, but said a third of our teachers quit by the end of their third year in the classroom. He said it's not money that drives them away.
"Discipline, discipline problems. I'm very pleased. I think it's a great thing where the previous administration put a computer in every classroom. I think it's more important to put some discipline in every classroom," Barbour said. "We've done in this package proposed was to strengthen discipline in the schools. Give teachers more authority to make parents accountable for their children's behavior in school."
Barbour's comments were met by applause. He said he opposes the state putting up $14 million to fund the Wellspring industrial site in Tupelo because it would be unfair to the rest of the state including Meridian.
Barbour also discussed the destruction caused by Katrina and stressed the need for temporary housing.
And he said the problems with KIA and the possible Meridian site is the company apparently believes it needs to be near a metropolitan area with a population of about 300,000.
"I just want to be straightforward with you. We've never had any concerns expressed by KIA about the quality of the workforce," said the governor. "It's been about the size, whether there are enough people available."
Barbour said three studies show there is a large enough pool of workers to accommodate Kia's needs and those findings have been sent to the company.
"They haven't told us they're not coming to Meridian. They've simply said we're going to look at some other places,” Barbour said.