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Gubernatorial Candidate Phil Bryant Visits Campus

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Lieutenant governor Phil Bryant spoke to students Wednesday night about the importance of young people's participation in upcoming elections.

"Get involved," Bryant said to students. "Rise above your own self-interest and then celebrate the victory because it certainly is going to be ours."

Bryant announced his campaign for Governor as a Republican candidate in January and has since announced proposals for new policies if he is victorious.

Bryant said that during his 11 years as state auditor he got an insider's look at how Mississippi's tax money is being spent.

"Those 11 years let me get a very good look at where your money is going," Bryant said.

"A look at how your money is being spent, and how it is being abused. A lot of people don't want me to tell you this, but you need to know it."

Bryant said that he is optimistic about changing how the taxpayer's money is spent if he is elected governor in November.

"The good thing about where we are right now is that we can see what is wrong, and we can change it," Bryant said. "We can change the budget system so that we have more money to go around."

Bryant's 2009 Smart Budget Act created what he called a "rainy day fund," which takes 2 percent of the money that the state brings in to be set aside for times of need.

"We put $380 million in the rainy day fund and in the last two years we've been able to use a portion of that savings to keep us from collapsing the government," he said.

Bryant spoke about past policies, as well as ones that he said he hopes to implement in the future. His plan, "A Healthier Mississippi," would aim to educate and train 1,000 new doctors by 2025.

"In theory this is a good idea, but the problem comes when you look at incentive for doctors," said Rachel Willis, a senior political science and public policy major.

"Ensuring that Mississippi has the economic growth and security to encourage professionals such as doctors and teachers to remain in the state is crucial if a policy like this is to be successful."

In campaigning, Bryant has said that the universities will play a key role in paving the way for the jobs of tomorrow. He said Wednesday that Mississippi needs its young, educated people to stay in the state.

"We have such great opportunity in Mississippi," Bryant said. "But (students) get a great education and then leave. We want you to stay here and be a part of helping us rebuild this state."

Casey Stafford, the executive director of the Miss. Federation of College Republicans, said that until this year she had always considered leaving the state after graduation.

"Recently I realized that we need to help pump money back into our economy," Stafford said. "We need to be investing back into the state of Mississippi because that's who is investing in us now."

Bryant said he is concerned with job creation because he wants to make Mississippi the most job-friendly state in the country. He talked about a clean energy plan that would aim toward making fuel from rare sources.

"We're going to use pine trees to make fuel," Bryant said. "This will help lower the cost of oil and increase good jobs. I think this will create thousands of jobs."

Igor Zlatojev, a political science junior, said that he liked that Bryant focused on specific ways to improve the state's conditions.

"I appreciated that he went straight to the point," Zlatojev said. "He didn't spend too much time talking about big, political ideals, as many politicians tend to at speeches. Instead, he talked about things that concern the people here."

Bryant asked that students register to vote and get more involved in the political process.

"You students, as the sovereigns of the state, need to make the decisions," Bryant said.

"You need to tell us politicians what to do."

Willis said that students play a key role in the electorate because they represent the future.

"My hope is that the more candidates visit our campus the more students will be encouraged to get involved," Willis said.


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