Gov. Reeves discusses COVID-19, budget

Proposes eliminating state income tax
Gov. Reeves is proposing eliminating the state income tax.
Gov. Reeves is proposing eliminating the state income tax.(Staff)
Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 2:42 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK/WLBT) - Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves discussed the latest on COVID-19 and the economy in a Facebook Live Monday.

Watch it here.

Seven more counties have qualified for additional COVID-19 restrictions: Hinds, Madison, Pontotoc, Tate, Winston, Itawamba, and Montgomery.

He began the news conference by thanking Mississippians for their prayers as his youngest daughter is battling the coronavirus. Reeves and his family are now in self-isolation.

Reeves said that COVID-19 numbers are up in the state and that it is getting worse. He said last week was the worst the state had seen since the latter part of July.

Because of this spike, the governor has added seven additional counties to his mask mandate. Those counties include: Hinds, Madison, Pontotoc, Tate, Winston, Itawamba and Montgomery. The counties already under increased restrictions and a mask mandate are Benton, Carroll, Covington, DeSoto, Forrest, Harrison, Humphreys, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Leflore, Lee, Marshall, Rankin and Yalobusha.

“I just want to be clear with everybody across the state today,” Reeves said. “Just because you are or are not in these twenty-two counties does not change what is in the best interest for you or your family.”

“Please wear a mask,” he pleaded, adding that it helps you as well as your friends and family.

Reeves said two vaccines are on their way, both being over 90 percent effective. He stated that he thinks politics should not be ‘played right now’ and that the voting is now over.

“We need to focus not on whether we are a Republican or a Democrat,” he said. “We need to focus on how do we take effective measures and help get us, as a nation, help get us as a state beyond 2020 and beyond the coronavirus.”

Reeves also announced his Fiscal Year 2022 Executive Budget Recommendation.

In the budget documents, Governor Reeves proposes eliminating the income tax for Mississippians. The elimination of the income tax would save a Mississippian making $40,000 nearly $2,000.

As lt. governor, Reeves passed the “Taxpayer Pay Raise Act,” that began the phase-out of the 3% income tax. FY 2022 is the first year for the 3% income tax to be completely eliminated and is the right time to begin a complete phase-out of the income tax.

“Because this plan is a phased approach, we will be able to ensure adequate funding will be available for education, law enforcement, health care, and transportation priorities,” Governor Reeves said. “It will not be necessary for us to increase other taxes in order to make up for lost revenue from the elimination of the income tax.”

The budget summary also highlights funding the police, protecting small businesses, creating a Patriotic Education Fund, supporting quality education, increasing workforce development, funding the Coronavirus response, funding the judiciary, and protecting the integrity of Medicaid.

In his budget, Governor Reeves is recommending $2 million to train and prepare teachers across the state in computer science courses to provide K-12 students with coding, cyber training, robotics, and artificial intelligence skills. The Governor is also recommending $3 million to fund more coaches to target math.

“We have seen the success of reading coaches as a tool to boost the early learning for our children. We need to accelerate recent successes in results for math – setting children up for success,” Governor Reeves said.

Governor Reeves is also proposing $50 million in one-time funds to accelerate workforce growth. Those funds would be used to facilitate six specific goals as listed in the budget: 1) Modernize and expand community college training programs, 2) Provide scholarships or wage assistance to help low-income citizens get into training programs or apprenticeships, 3) Develop the right industry certified credentials or programs in high-school, 4) Grow Mississippi’s path of IT-based skills, 5) Expand dual credit programs in high-schools, and 6) Incentivize career technical courses in high-schools.

“I have always promised to be a good steward of the taxpayers' dollars, and this budget reflects that commitment to each of you,” Reeves said.

The full budget and an executive summary of key priorities is below:

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