Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Democratic Challenger to Phil Bryant Emerges

Today, Vicki Slater announced her candidacy to be Mississippi's next governor. With a powerful indictment of Phil Bryant's policy blunders, Slater laid out the dire need for new leadership and new direction for our state. Be sure to check out her whole speech below. 

Mississippi State Capitol

Thank you for coming. My name is Vicki Slater and I am here today to announce my candidacy for the Office of Governor of the Great State of Mississippi.

With me today is my husband Scott.  We have a blended family of six children, four children in law (soon to be five children in law), and we have been blessed with six grandchildren so far.

Today we start the difficult but incredibly important work of saving our beloved state of Mississippi from the forces that are wrecking it. I stand here to ask every citizen of this state to join in that work. Together we can build the Mississippi we all deserve. Today we start to write a new future for our state.

Let’s be clear about something. The problems we have are not the fault of Mississippi’s people, they are the fault of Mississippi’s failed leadership.

There can be no argument that government is morally obligated to keep its citizens safe, educate its children, look out for those who cannot look out for themselves, and be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

I am running for Governor because Phil Bryant has miserably failed to meet those obligations. I promise you all that I will not fail.

When he took office, Phil Bryant single-handedly shut down an insurance exchange that had been created by Republicans and funded by our tax dollars. Phil Bryant and the Republicans in the Legislature turned away nine billion dollars in Medicaid expansion money and every year they send hundreds of millions of our tax dollars away – saving lives in other states, sustaining hospitals in other states, while working Mississippians go without healthcare and doors to rural hospitals slam shut. In healthcare, Phil Bryant has failed us.

To the parents out there who are working hard to make ends meet, but have no health insurance, I will not fail you, and together Mississippians will thrive.

Since the day Phil Bryant became Governor, America has created over 8,000,000 new jobs. But Mississippi has lost over 40,000 jobs. We have the highest unemployment rate of any state in the country. On jobs, Phil Bryant has failed us.

To the moms and dads out there who are working while raising children, and to those who stay at home to care for your children, to the small business owners out there working 80 hours a week, to those out there looking every day for the chance to work, and to those out there working for the minimum wage without a raise in years, I will not fail you, and together Mississippians will succeed.
Governor William Winter told us 30 years ago that the road out of the poorhouse runs in front of the school house. Public education has been the ladder into the middle class for millions of Americans, and public school teachers have held that ladder. But Phil Bryant and the Republicans are sawing through the rungs. They brag about how fat they have made the State Rainy Day Fund with money that should have, by law, gone to our schools. That is just robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Phil Bryant and the Republicans have simply – and illegally – refused to fund education in our state. Underfunding our schools not only hurts teachers and schoolchildren. It hurts everyone when local governments have to raise property taxes to make up for the shortfall, if they can. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, high insurance rates for homeowners are making ownership an impossibility. Add higher property taxes and the dream of home ownership is all but erased for Gulf Coast families. When families cannot maintain home ownership, communities and businesses fail. With Mississippi now 50th in education and 50th in business environment, Phil Bryant has failed us on education.

To the parents worried about what the future holds for children with a last-place education, to the teachers buying pencils and books out of their own paychecks, to the homeowners facing spiraling property taxes, I will not fail you.

I have spent most of my career as an attorney and small business owner fighting corruption at the highest levels of government in this State. Does corruption exist in Mississippi? Yes. Can the people get justice from a corrupt government? No.

Recently we have seen corruption abound in the Department of Marine Resources on the Coast, and the prison kickback scandal involving no-bid contracts, and threats made against legislators who would not tow the Republican party line. It’s unacceptable. Corruption wastes taxpayers’ money and deprives Mississippians of justice and jobs.

Why did we have to wait for the Federal government to expose the corruption? Why didn’t Phil Bryant dig it out when he was State Auditor, Lt Governor or Governor?  On stewardship of the public trust, Phil Bryant has failed us.

I want to say something in particular to young voters: Back when Governor Bryant and I were in school, our teachers never had to dip into their pockets to help fund the classroom, and college was fully affordable. When folks got out of school, they could find jobs that supported a family.

Your fathers and mothers and others before you got better than you are getting now. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The government is funded with your tax dollars, too. There is nothing wrong with voting for better health, better wages, better education, better jobs for yourselves. It is our government, it is our money, and it is the tradition of America that Americans work in partnership with our government for the good of all of us.

That is why it why we say ours is a government of, by and for the people. You don’t deserve any less than what the rest of America gets and you should not accept less. Don’t accept it for even one more day!

I am running to be your Governor because time is of the essence. The time is now to have our money work for us, the time is now to put Mississippi children, families and businesses first, the time is now to save lives. We have waited for leadership too long, and we know it will not come from Phil Bryant.

Mississippians are the greatest, most generous, most spiritual, most talented people in the greatest country on the face of the Earth. It is simply wrong for us to be held back, to be held down, by failed leaders, corruption and selfish politics. That starts to change right here, today.

Today is the day. Today is the day we proudly step forward and begin working together to get Mississippi back in the game and for all of us to win. Together, we will not fail.

Thank you. God bless you, God bless the United States of America and God bless the great state of Mississippi.

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