Toby Barker’s experience includes building broad coalitions to get things done across many policy areas, including public education, criminal justice reform, foster care, healthcare and budgeting modernization.
His principal accomplishments include:
- Championed the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013, handled and negotiated the bill and helped secure Mississippi’s first ever investment in early childhood education
- Handled and negotiated the foster care reform bill in 2016 that moved foster care from the Department of Human Services and created the Department of Child Protection Services and helped secure the $34 million in funding to comply with the state’s federal court order
- Pushed the Department of Corrections in 2015 to end ineffective programs and adopt community-based alternatives in cognitive behavioral therapy for first-time, nonviolent offenders
- Handled the 2012 bill that created the Mississippi Dyslexia Therapy Scholarship to mandate dyslexia screening for all Mississippi students and create more opportunities for high quality early intervention
While diverse across policy type, Toby’s accomplishments at the state level have been indicative of his relationship with his constituents in Hattiesburg, providing a direct impact on the people he serves.
In his work in the Mississippi Legislature, Toby Barker:
- Secured state resources, by working with Hattiesburg legislative delegation and local officials, to provide sidewalks and safe pathways for Hattiesburg Public School students around Woodley Elementary, Rowan Elementary, Hawkins Elementary and Hattiesburg High.
- Secured ongoing funding in the K-12 budget for technology upgrades at N.R. Burger Middle School and increased state funding for DuBard School and The Children’s Center for Communication and Development, both at Southern Miss.
- Secured capital investment, by working with the Hattiesburg legislative delegation, for both the Hattiesburg Zoo and the Historic Eureka School Museum.
- Authored legislation that allowed the sale of the former Elam Arms residence hall and parking lot to spur the first commercial development for Midtown Hattiesburg.
- Successfully secured an additional $1.3 million in state appropriations needed for The University of Southern Mississippi’s insurance deductible after the 2013 tornado.
In addition to his many accomplishments, Barker has provided unwavering support for Hattiesburg’s educational and healthcare institutions.
Toby chairs the House Performance Based Budgeting Committee. In this role, he led the state’s adoption of evidence based programs, strategic planning and performance budgeting. Working with Senate colleagues, he created the Seven Objectives of Quality Program Design, which has become part of the Legislature’s screening of new expenditures. Parts of these Seven Elements have been adapted for use in several state and local governments across the country. As Mayor, Toby will work to evolve and bring this data driven approach to solve local challenges.