The results are significant: balanced budgets without any tax increases; a 27.8% increase in per capita personal income; prudent management of the state health care program; and new attention on Mississippi as an energy producing state that can help meet America’s energy needs in the future.
Governor Barbour’s first election in 2003 marked the largest voter turnout in Mississippi gubernatorial history, and he was reelected in 2007 with 58.2 percent of the vote. The Yazoo City, Mississippi, native is only the second governor since Reconstruction to be elected to a second consecutive term as Mississippi’s chief executive.
Achievements in his first term included:
Balancing the budget without raising taxes. Inheriting a budget hole of more than $720 million, Governor Barbour led by restraining spending, controlling debt and getting the state’s fiscal house in order. His policies not only filled the budget hole but also resulted in increasing Mississippi’s rainy day fund.
The most comprehensive tort reform in the nation, restoring balance for plaintiffs and defendants in the state’s civil justice system;
Momentum Mississippi, an update to the state’s economic development programs. During the Barbour Administration, and prior to the current international economic downtown, Mississippi saw net increases in new jobs. Major announcements include Toyota, whose auto assembly plant was the most sought-after economic development project in the United States; General Electric, which will manufacture advanced jet engine components; SeverStal, which has built a state-of-the-art steel mill; and PACCAR, which is building a diesel engine manufacturing plant for its Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. Even in the troubled economy, Mississippi continues to aggressively pursue job-creation projects.
Record funding increases for all three levels of education in Mississippi: K-12, community colleges, and universities; for K-12, it was the largest increase in any four year period under any governor in the history of our state. Across-the-board reforms in public education, including new focus on teacher and school performance, reducing state bureaucracy and strengthening discipline.
Saving the Medicaid program for truly needy recipients, emphasizing preventative care, and implementing the strongest anti-fraud plan in the history of Mississippi Medicaid.
Protecting the unborn. Governor Barbour initiated and the Legislature passed seven pro-life laws that make Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child, according to a national right-to-life organization.
Today, under Governor Barbour’s leadership, Mississippi is emerging as a leader in utilizing the state’s abundant resources and developing alternative, affordable, and sustainable sources of energy. To date, approximately $10.5 billion in projects have been announced, involving biofuels, liquefied natural gas, clean coal and coal to liquid, and nuclear power. In total, the state is actively pursuing and negotiating additional energy-related projects valued at more than $26.3 billion.
In the face of the worst natural disaster in American history, Hurricane Katrina, which struck on August 29, 2005, Governor Barbour took the lead early on helping Mississippians rebuild and recover. He and First Lady Marsha Barbour, his wife of 37 years, have worked tirelessly and innovatively with local, state and national leadership to tap into many resources of assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
He created the Governor’s Commission on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal to develop a broad vision for opportunities to help South Mississippi rebuild bigger and better than ever. Today, Governor Barbour continues the good management practices and award-winning stewardship of about $5.4 billion in federal funding received after Katrina for housing, infrastructure, and a wide variety of other recovery work.
For his leadership after Katrina, Governor Barbour was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award, which is presented to a nationally recognized leader by the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council.
He was also named Governor of the Year for 2006 by Washington, D.C.-based Governing magazine; awarded the Gulf Guardian Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his work to rebuild and protect sensitive Coast ecosystems; and received the 2008 Adam Smith Medal from BIPAC for his pursuit of the principles of free enterprise as Mississippi’s 63rd Governor.