Governor of Mississippi
Board Member: Governors
Known for strong integrity and commitment to an accountable government, Phil Bryant was sworn in Mississippi’s 64th governor on January 10, 2012. He was elected in November 2011 after capturing 62 percent of the vote.
In his inaugural State of the State Address, Bryant outlined 31 bold initiatives that encompass his vision for Mississippians to “rise together” through economic expansion, efficiency in government and adherence to values that make Mississippi great.
The close of the 2012 legislative session saw many of Bryant’s new initiatives become law, including key components of his Mississippi Works agenda.
Strong, pro-job measures like the Health Care Industry Zone Act, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act and Dual Enrollment are creating a solid foundation for Mississippi’s success and economic vitality.
Bryant also this year completed his mission to virtually eliminate Mississippi’s antiquated business inventory tax by signing into law tax credits to offset the inventory burden.
At Bryant’s urging, the Legislature this session passed a fiscal year 2013 budget that sets aside two percent of the state’s resources to address unforeseen budget challenges. Also in the coming year, the state Department of Revenue, in response to Bryant’s call for efficiency in government, will serve as a model for performance-based budgeting in the coming fiscal year.
Prior to becoming governor, Bryant served one term as Mississippi’s 37th lieutenant governor after earning 59 percent of the vote in November 2007. He also served Mississippi as state auditor and represented his legislative district in the Mississippi House of Representatives for five years.
As lieutenant governor, Bryant continued his longstanding mission to ensure accountability in state government. In his first week of office, Bryant proposed webcasting of the Senate proceedings so taxpayers could see their government in action and hold their elected officials accountable. He also led the fight to pass the most comprehensive ethics reform in nearly twenty-five years, which among other things, requires all elected officials to file their ethics reports online.
Bryant earned his reputation for integrity and fairness during his term as state auditor, where he recovered more than $12 million in taxpayers’ dollars that were embezzled or improperly spent. He was first appointed to that position by former Governor Kirk Fordice in 1996, won re-election by a vast majority in 1999 and was re-elected in 2003, winning 81 out of 82 counties. In a job where honesty and trustworthiness are the foundations for building public confidence in state government, Bryant made a positive difference for Mississippians.
Bryant has a long history of fighting for conservative beliefs like lower taxes and traditional values. During his service in the Mississippi House of Representatives, he served as vice chairman of the Insurance Committee and authored the Capital Gains Tax Cut Act of 1994. As a freshman legislator, he also began a five-year struggle to end the marriage penalty in Mississippi’s tax code.
Bryant, the son of a diesel mechanic and a mother who stayed home with her three boys, learned early the values of hard work and the importance of education. The Moorhead native and former deputy sheriff earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Hinds Community College and completed his bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. He holds a master’s degree in political science from Mississippi College, and before assuming his role as governor, Bryant served as an adjunct professor of government there.
Bryant is the contributing author of three books: 21st Century Government – Digital Promise, Digital Reality and Leadership Secrets of Government Financial Officials, the fourth and fifth volumes of a leadership series with an emphasis on financial management, human resources, technology, and auditing; and, Best Case Practices. This publication highlights the innovative initiatives of fellow Republican Lt. Governors all across our country.
Bryant’s persistence in promoting conservative public policy stems from his belief that people, not the government, know best how to take care of their own money. His consistent views and actions in public service helped him earn the 2004 Statesman of the Year award presented by American Family Radio.
Because of his love of the outdoors and his belief in the second amendment, he has been a longtime member of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action and is a recipient of the Kirk Fordice Freedom Award presented annually by the Central Mississippi chapter of the NRA. He served as the 2008 Honorary Chairman of the Republican Lieutenant Governor’s Association and is a past president of the Mississippi Republican Elected Officials Association. He also served on the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association Executive Committee as the Southern Region Republican at-large member.
Bryant’s dedication to his work is evident through his years of public service, but his faith and family have always come first. Phil Bryant and his wife First Lady Deborah Bryant have two adult children, Katie and Patrick, and are active members of St. Marks United Methodist Church.