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Mississippi governor says he wants young people to stop leaving the state to pursue careers elsewhere

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January 9, 2024
By The Associated Press

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican Gov. Tate Reeves used the theme “Mississippi Forever” on Tuesday as he was inaugurated for his second term, saying he wants to curb the trend of young people leaving to pursue careers elsewhere.

“For too many decades, Mississippi’s most valuable export has not been our cotton or even our culture. It’s been our kids,” Reeves told lawmakers, state officials and several international diplomats during a ceremony outside the state Capitol on a chilly, blustery day.

He said people from Mississippi hold prominent positions in government, business and entertainment.

“They made other places better, and we missed out on all they could have done here at home,” said Reeves, who has three daughters with his wife, Elee.


Other states in the South — including Texas and Florida — have seen substantial increases in population in the past decade. Mississippi has long been one of the poorest states, and its population has remained stagnant.

Reeves, 49, campaigned for reelection last year by focusing on tax cuts, job creation, low unemployment and strides in education, including improvements in test scores for fourth- grade reading between 2013 and 2022. In his speech Tuesday, Reeves mentioned that Mississippi was among the top five states for improvements in reading scores by Black fourth-graders.

“We are making sure all of Mississippi has momentum,” he said.

Reeves held two other statewide elected offices before becoming governor four years ago. He served two terms as treasurer and two as lieutenant governor.

Reeves is the fourth Mississippi governor to win two consecutive terms since the state lifted its ban on gubernatorial succession in the 1980s. Republicans have held the Mississippi governorship the past 20 years.

The November general election was unusually competitive in a state where Republicans control all statewide offices and both chambers of the Legislature. Reeves received nearly 51% of the vote to defeat Democrat Brandon Presley.

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