Gov. Tate Reeves took the oath of office today at the Mississippi Capitol beneath gloomy skies, surrounded by the state's new leadership. The governor's speech centered around unity, even as he called for the protection of the state's special "culture of love and kinship" against the force of "erosion that frays societies.""
Thank you Mr. Chief Justice. Governor Bryant, Governor Barbour, thank you for being here. Lieutenant Governor Hosemann, Speaker Gunn, President Pro Tem Kirby, Speaker Pro Tem White, members of the Mississippi legislature, friends, family and my fellow Mississippians, it is my greatest honor to stand before you today and take this sacred oath.
I was just 29 years old when I first took an oath in this capitol to serve the people of this great state. The last sentence of that oath hit me hard on that day and it drives me still today. So. Help. Me. God. The call to action of the oath of office is not a commitment to be perfect. It is a commitment to seek the guidance of the Almighty God to compensate for our human frailty.
Our forebearers in Mississippi governance were not perfect, but they perfectly scripted this oath. And as your Governor, you have my commitment to seek God's guidance and God's will in all that I do.
We began this celebration on Sunday in the church where Elee and I have worshipped since we were students in college. And to start this celebration, we prayed not that we would be perfect but that we would be faithful.
I'd like to take a few moments today to talk about the road ahead of us—and about what is behind us.
2019 was a tough campaign year. Some would say it was a full-contact campaign. But that campaign is over. Campaigns by necessity highlight differences. Governing is about coming together.
Here is my promise: This will be an administration For All Mississippi. For. All. Mississippi. That is our theme today and that will be our motto.
That means our two priorities will be: defending the loving culture that underpins our quality of life, and growing the economy that lifts all of our families.
A culture of love and kinship has knitted Mississippi families together, and tied them to each other, for ages. It is what makes us special in a fast-paced and transient world. I will defend that culture against the erosion that frays societies. And I will work to make sure our state government's functions reflect the love we have for each other. That will mean taking care of foster kids, and getting special needs kids the special help they need. It will mean cleaning up corrections—to provide for the safety of our citizens and the human dignity of all within the system. It will mean making sure state government is not causing more problems than it solves.
And of course the very best way to solve problems for families is to get them great jobs. A growing, vibrant economy solves more problems than any government giveaway ever could. A government program helps for a month, but a good-paying career helps a family for generations.
It is my mission to spend every single day creating a climate where good careers are plentiful—with every Mississippian prepared to pursue them.
To do this we must raise our eyeline and our expectations. It must not be our ambition to keep up with Arkansas or Alabama. It must be our goal to compete for the very best jobs in the world.
We can do it. It starts with workforce training. I am committed to a history-making increase in workforce training in our state, a skills-based system that will be the envy of the nation.
I am committed to elevating our public schools. That means a pay raise for every teacher—and a new mission to give us more national board certified teachers per capita than any state in the nation. You will note that I did not say more than anyone in the Mid-South. I didn't say number one in the Southeast. I said number one in the nation.
It is a goal we can achieve—and one worth achieving. We have done it before and we can do it again.
While we rebuild the way we train our workforce, from kindergarten beyond high school, we will travel the world to find the job creators who want to be our partners. We will comb our state to find the companies that want to grow. We will lower barriers to innovation. We will do everything in our power to make sure this is the easiest place to start and to grow a business.
You have heard governors talk about opportunity as long as we have had governors. But I want you to know that for me, it is not just a matter of policies. It's personal.
My dad is joining me in this chamber today, and that is more than fitting. I would never have made it into ANY chamber without him, or my mom and my brother.
My dad grew up as one of 11 kids in a two room house in Bogue Chitto, Mississippi. If you'd looked at my dad's circumstances, you never would have guessed what he would accomplish. But then he started working on air conditioners. He worked hard, and grew, and built, and grinded, until he was the most respected person in his field in the entire state of Mississippi.
His skills—and his character—changed his life, and that changed mine.
It must be the mission of our government to open the doors of generational opportunity to more people in our state, north and south, man and woman, black and white.
When Elee and I graduated from Millsaps, we both had opportunities to work in other states. People like her better, so she probably had more opportunities than I had.
We were too young to be wise, but we did make one wise decision that has shaped our lives ever since. Together, as a young couple, we decided to stand our ground here in Mississippi.
We decided we would get married. We decided to pursue Mississippi careers. We decided we would raise Mississippi kids. And then we decided, we would work together to make Mississippi better. I have never regretted it—and now, as governor, I will spare no effort to finish the job we started.
As State Treasurer, I rode shotgun on economic development missions with the greatest salesman Mississippi has ever known. As Lieutenant Governor, I got to walk shoulder to shoulder with a great listener who can relate to every person in Mississippi. Governor Barbour and Governor Bryant, you have prepared me well and I thank you.
The greatest preparation you gave me was the understanding that no Governor does the job alone. Leadership is an attitude of common purpose. It is the product of solidarity. It comes only when we all begin caring about each other more than ourselves.
That kind of leadership requires a sense of mission not just for our governor, not just for our legislature, but a sense of mission FOR ALL MISSISSIPPI.
I am asking today for you to join me in that mission. We must care about each other enough to overcome our differences. We must be faithful to each other enough to outlast our shortcomings. And we must be committed to each other enough to raise our expectations.
When I took that first oath of office in 2003, I did not know how long my service would last. All I knew is that you, the people of Mississippi, had demonstrated a faith in me that I might never be able to meet.
I have never underestimated your trust. I have never forgotten the oath to pursue service with the help of our God. And I will wake up every day working to bring us together to make our state be all it can be, work that will be done by all of Mississippi, for all of Mississippi.
Thank you for your support—and thank you for your prayers. God bless you. God bless your families. And may God bless the great state of Mississippi.