Neshoba County, Miss.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says that after focusing on education and job creation his first two years he'll concentrate on public safety in 2014.
The Republican governor also says he has a "divine responsibility" to oppose abortion and to protect school prayer and gun ownership.
His comments came Thursday during a speech at the Neshoba County Fair, an annual gathering known as Mississippi's Giant House Party.
Bryant also announced that Mississippi has been awarded a $300,000 sub-grant for its National Board Certified Teacher Program by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to ensure that many more students will be taught year after year by teachers who have the proven skills to advance their learning and achievement.
"From piloting teacher merit pay programs to increasing teaching program entry standards and creating scholarships for students wishing to enter the teaching profession, Mississippi is taking strong steps in the right direction," said Bryant.
The governor's office says National Board Certification is a rigorous process that allows teachers to demonstrate that they have met the profession’s highest standards in the subject that they teach.
Since becoming Mississippi’s 64th governor, Gov. Bryant has announced the creation of more than 7,200 new jobs and more than $1.1 billion in private sector investment. This aggressive push for job creation helped earn acknowledgment from the American City Business Journals, which named Gov. Bryant fourteenth among U.S. governors for job creation in its On Numbers rankings.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith also spoke Thursday. They're all Republicans.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Attorney General Jim Hood and State Auditor Stacey Pickering spoke at the Fair on Wednesday.