McRae: Legislative Session Marked by Responsible Governance
More specifically, state leaders deserve a tremendous amount of credit for championing taxpayer interests over the last few months, delivering the largest tax cut in state history and leaving a half-billion dollars more in the pockets of hardworking Mississippians. They also declined to pass an annual bond bill, a decision that will keep around $300 million off the taxpayers’ credit card, save around $3 million in interest immediately, and avoid $9 million in spending long term.
Actions like this help immensely as I continue to fight to squeeze more out of every dollar spent by protecting and boosting the state’s credit rating. Armed with this stronger financial standing, I have already been able to help negotiate a series of debt refinancing deals that have saved the taxpayers $100 million during my short time as Treasurer.
And while they found ways to cut, state lawmakers also focused spending on the areas that matter most to Mississippians, increasing teacher pay above the southeastern average and creating the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund.
Of course, the state’s finances weren’t the only item on the legislature’s agenda. Thanks to a bill authored by State Senator Walter Michel, the Treasury can now coordinate with the Department of Human Services (DHS) to use a parent’s unclaimed money to satisfy child support debts.
Unclaimed money is turned over to the state when banks, credit unions, and even retail stores are unable to find the rightful owner. After five years, financial institutions turn that money over to the state and the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division is charged with finding the owner and returning the cash. But when that cash belongs to a parent who is behind on child support, it seems only appropriate to return it to the child in need.
The reality is that when a parent fails to pay their child support, young people lose out on necessary care and opportunities to grow, so I’m looking forward to working with the DHS to make certain more Mississippi children receive the money that is rightfully theirs. Of note, I have instructed my team to implement this policy as quickly as possible. We must always put our children first, and in passing this bill, the state legislature did exactly that.
The legislative docket included many other victories as well, including those that protect life and help pregnant mothers in need, expand workforce development, crack down on fentanyl dealers, and harshen penalties against human traffickers. There is always work that remains, but I congratulate every citizen on a successful legislative session that moved our state forward and allowed Mississippi to set an example for the nation as to what responsible governance should look like.