Daily Archives: June 19, 2013

AG Hood issues opinion: Governor can’t run Medicaid.


Mississippi’s attorney general says the governor does not have legal authority to operate the Division of Medicaid by executive order.

Attorney General Jim Hood’s nonbinding opinion, issued Wednesday, contradicts claims by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and could increase pressure on Bryant to call the Legislature into special session to reauthorize the state Medicaid program.

Unless something changes, the program is on track to end after June 30, putting health care at risk for 644,000 Mississippians.

Hood, a Democrat, issued his opinion in response to questions from Democratic lawmakers. His opinions are nonbinding but provide guidance for state leaders.

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Filed under Attorney General, Democrats, Governor, health, Jim Hood, Legislature, Mississippi, Phil Bryant, Politics, Republican, State Government

Review of MDMR shows agency susceptible to “fraud, waste and abuse” new director says.


The head of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources said Tuesday that the agency is “susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse” and must change its own work environment.

Jamie Miller’s comments came as he released results of an accounting firm’s review of the agency. It was conducted during Miller’s first 60 days as executive director of the agency that had been beset by problems with spending and communication.

The assessment by Horne CPAs & Business Advisors found MDMR uses outdated procedures; does an inadequate job of reporting information to its governing body, the Commission on Marine Resources; and has too little oversight for some functions, such as grant management.

The assessment also found communication has been inadequate, both inside the agency and from the agency to the public.

And, it found the agency has not followed some requirements of the state fiscal agency, the Department of Finance and Administration.

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Filed under Gulf Coast, Mississippi, Spending, State Government, Tourism

IHL task force quietly studying Mississippi internet tax for consideration in 2014 session.


A state task force is quietly taking a hard look at the pros and cons of forcing Internet retailers to comply with a Mississippi law that mandates they collect sales taxes on items they sell online to buyers in the state.

A key question is whether taxing cyber sales is a true pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or a big hassle not worth the expense, as a State of Maryland study concluded in 2011.

How much Mississippi is losing in tax revenues is a big question without a consensus answer. Some studies put the range at between $40 million and $200 million, while a survey cited in an April Associated Press story tagged the cyber revenue loss at $616 million.

Bob Neal, a senior state economist with the Institutes of Higher Learning, has not seen any figure with which he is comfortable. He said he thinks the $40 million may be too low and the $200 million too high. “I am not any more confident in either number, to tell you the truth,” Neal noted.

He has brought the task force together but is unsure its work will produce any sort of revenue projection. “The task force is exploring what is the situation and, frankly, is it an addressable issue,” he said.

He said Tuesday the task force made up of economists, state officials and private sector representatives is in its infancy but plans to complete its work before the next legislative session.

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Filed under Legislature, Mississippi, Politics, State Government, Taxes

MS university officials question validity of teacher prep study, say no data requested.


Aspiring teachers might want to leave Mississippi for a college degree after a study released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality found the state lacked a single high-quality teacher prep program.

On a scale of one to four stars – with four being the best and one the worst – none of Mississippi’s 11 colleges and universities included in the report achieved more than 2.5 stars.

One university, Delta State, got two “Consumer Alert” designations because its secondary and special education programs failed to get even one star.

Delta State University officials questioned the validity of the findings, saying the NCTQ didn’t request data on the school’s secondary education program before assigning its dismal ranking.

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Filed under Education, Ethics, Mississippi, State Government