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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant says critics are painting a false and negative picture of Mississippi

The Republican said in his State of the State address Tuesday that critics portray Mississippi as “a declining state whose people are suffering mightily.”

But, he says the state is filled with progress and is “inhabited with caring, hard-working people of all races and ages.”

He says Mississippi recently had its lowest unemployment level since levels were first recorded in 1979. He says billions of dollars have been invested in new jobs in the state.

Bryant says that he will offer proposals to reduce government regulations and make Mississippi “the most job-friendly state in America.”

He also says that Mississippi’s education system, “though far from perfect, is clearly better than it has ever been before.”