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Thirty-Nine New Members at Capitol for Start of 2020 Legisla

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Thirty-Nine New Members at Capitol for Start of 2020 Legislative Session
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Mississippi State Capitol
Desare Frazier

Today marks the start of the 2020 Mississippi Legislative session with newly elected lawmakers joining those returning for the new four year term. MPB's Desare Frazier finds out what's at the top of their agenda.

Growing Mississippi's economy is the number one priority for Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton. He says during the campaign season, voters and local leaders repeatedly talked about the need for more jobs and workforce training. He says improving education is a part of that equation.

"Education is tied up into that of course, K-12 and IHL education so when you talk about job creation you're talking about giving people skills and education and the training that they need to secure that job," said Gunn.

Gunn says they'll also look at how to improve the state's prison system and healthcare.

In-coming Republican Governor Tate Reeves says he'll be focused on workforce development and supports a teacher pay raise.

"We increased teacher pay by $1,500 per year last year and I've proposed a $4,300 additional increase in teacher pay," said Reeves.

Returning House Democrat Christopher Bell of Jackson says his priorities include increasing teacher pay...

"As well as having a higher standard for our education system in the State of Mississippi, secondly we're going to deal with the infrastructure needs for our roads and bridges as there has been a proposal for an increase in the gas tax," said Bell.

The legislature retains its Republican majority in both chambers. The House will convene with 25 new members--eight of whom are Democrats. The senate will welcome 14 new members--where two are Democrats. This year's session is scheduled to last five months and end Sunday, May 10th.