Thursday, January 2010
Nunnelee addresses Rotary Club
By SUE WATSON
State Senator Alan Nunnelee was guest speaker recently at the Holly Springs Rotary Club luncheon, a warm-up for his 2010 run for the seat of District 1 U.S. Representative, now held by Democrat Travis Childers.
Nunnelee’s talk centered around his humble beginnings as a candidate for the state Legislature. The Republican state senator has held his current seat since 1994 when he replaced Roger Wicker, now a U.S. senator.
Remembering, humility was advice Nunnelee said he received when he won his first election. In 2008, he was named chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, a committee he had never served on, he said. He was named chair by Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant.
Barely in the chairman’s seat, Mississippi faced its worse fiscal crisis in history, Nunnelee said.
The current financial crisis is the most difficult since the business cycle of the Great Depression and since the great flood of 1927, he said.
“We have a tough budget ahead of us,” he said. “I think we will get through it using common sense.”
He said losing his corporate job to a corporate merger 15 years ago required a family budget review with his wife to address short-term and long-term financial goals.
“It wasn’t fun but we got through it,” he said. “I think people in Marshall County last night did the exact same thing. It’s going on in homes and businesses around North Mississippi. If people do it for their homes and business, they have every reason to expect the government to do likewise.”
Some business people are cutting all the easy things but are finding it painful to have to let loyal employees and friends go to keep their business from failing, he said.
He said budget cuts recommended by Gov. Haley Barbour are designed to impact Mississippi’s 2012 budget the most. Barbour’s budget proposal is useful as a framework for discussing next year’s budget in the Legislature, he said.
The use of Rainy Day Funds to help cover the state tax revenue shortfall will be a part of the discussion with some legislators wanting to draw upon it heavily and others who want to dip into the fund more gradually over four years, he said.
Nunnelee said he made it a priority in January 2008 to fill up the Rainy Day Fund and he is one who wants to protect the fund.
“The rain clouds and storms that could come are a lot worse,” he said, adding that the current economic recession is projected to possibly last four years.
“It takes discipline to not consume all the Rainy Day Fund the first years of the recession.”
The 2008 budget was not completed until summer, yet 99 percent of what the Legislature had on the table was funded, he said.
Nunnelee said he is concerned about Washington which he believes “has a moral obligation to his grandson’s generation” to not pass on today’s financial obligations to future generations. The current generation has enjoyed liberty because of the men and women who purchased it and the present generation should pass on opportunity to the next, he said.
“What I’ve seen in Washington the last months is both our liberty and opportunity attacked,” he said.
Spending the country out of a recession is not the way to solve the country’s financial woes, he said.
“It’s one thing if we're spending our own money, but not our children and grandchildren’s money,” he said. “Every young couple knows you can’t use a credit card and borrow your way into prosperity.”
He applauded the Mississippi Sales Tax holiday as a means of stimulating the state economy but deplored the Cash for Clunkers program, saying it cost government $26,000 per vehicle.
He believes in letting working folks keep more of their money, he said.
“Yes, we do have some challenges in this country and that's why I’m running for U.S. Congress,” he said.
In a question and answer session that followed Nunnelee’s talk, the state senator said:
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