At a Council of Governments meeting on Monday, Snowden said the session, which began a week ago, will last 90 days.
The biggest action of the first week, he said, was passing appropriations bills that will put money mainly at community colleges and IHL facilities for bad roofs.
Traditionally, he said, this money has been generated by bonds.
“This is the way we would like to do it. You don’t want to borrow money for long-term when, let’s face it, you have a volunteer department buy a fire truck, the truck is rotated out before it’s time to pay off the bond,” Snowden said. “That’s not really good business so we’re trying to appropriate for those things.”
Of course the state’s budget is always of serious concern to lawmakers, Snowden said. Even though the state’s revenue is up by about $230 million, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee is proposing to spend less because there will be more than $400 million less coming in this year since that money was from one-time appropriations.
Snowden says many lawmakers are being cautious about spending money.
“We’re still not back to the revenue levels that we enjoyed in 2008,” he said. “We hope to be back to that level in a year or two. We’re going to be in a challenging time with budgets for some time yet.”
Filed under Budget, East Mississippi, Entitlements, Greg Snowden, Legislature, Meridian, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Politics, Republican, Revenue, Spending, State Bonds, State Government
Mississippi Power is reporting that the Kemper County energy facility is more than 70 percent complete.
Last week the two largest pieces of equipment were delivered to the plant site, which will aid in reducing emissions.
The delivery was a coordinated effort between the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Kemper County Sheriff’s Department, the city of DeKalb, Tennessee Valley Authority, 4-County Electric Power Association, East Mississippi Electric Power Association, and Burkhalter Rigging according to a news release issued by Mississippi Power.
Also last week energy began flowing to the main electrical building at the site.
“These milestones are indicators of the tremendous progress being made every day to deliver 21st century coal technology to our customers,” Tommy Anderson, Mississippi Power vice president of generation development was quoted as saying in the news release. “And with more than 3,000 workers on-site today, the project is helping to fuel the Mississippi economy.”
(Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip) Gunn is a proponent of charter schools in Mississippi and is hopeful the House and Senate can agree on legislation during the next session to offer parents and their children school choice, particularly in failing school districts.
“I think it’s time for us in Mississippi to get our educational system on track. We have continued to lag behind for the last 40 years,” Gunn said.
Charter schools could be the answer, he said.
“This is an idea where you create a school in a district that gives the opportunity for some children to go to where they are structured and disciplined.”
Gunn also pledged fiscal responsibility in developing the state’s budget, adding that the state has to wean itself from one-time money sources.
During a question and answer session, Gunn talked about problems with the Public Employees Retirement System, which has been under scrutiny of late because it is paying out more than it is bringing in.
“PERS cannot continue to be sustained in its current form,” Gunn said. “I don’t know what the solution is. A lot of people are looking at it but it cannot sustain itself in its present form.”
Filed under charter schools, East Mississippi, Lauderdale County, Legislature, Meridian, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, PERS, Philip Gunn, Politics, Republican, Spending, State Government, Superintendents, Teachers
Complaints to the Mississippi Ethics Commission about more than 60 elected and appointed officials in Meridian and Lauderdale County are not related to the Department of Justice’s investigation and lawsuit alleging a school-to-prison pipeline, but the complaints stem from the same problem, according to local NAACP members.
The local NAACP chapter filed ethics complaints against the officials on Thursday, according to John Harris, Meridian/Lauderdale County NAACP president.
“We filed ethics charges regarding individuals we felt that had some type of dealings with our kids,” Harris said. “These individuals should have been watching over our kids. We felt the ball was dropped.”
Those who had ethics complaints filed against them had direct and indirect involvement with what was going on with children in Meridian and Lauderdale County, Harris said.
“We were in the process of doing the ethics charges prior to the DOJ filing their lawsuit,” Harris said.
The DOJ alleges that the constitutional rights of juveniles who get into trouble are being systematically violated by the Meridian Police Department, the Lauderdale County Youth Court and the Mississippi Department of Youth Services.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told a nearly packed Meridian Rotary Club luncheon Wednesday he and the state’s lawmakers worked hard to make Mississippi a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.
Reeves said legislators passed laws benefitting job creation and education.
“My goal as the leader of the Senate was to listen to the members to find out what they were passionate about,” said Reeves, who served two terms as the state treasurer prior to his election to lieutenant governor in 2011. “The best legislation is one in which the members all have an interest.”
“This is the last election we’re going to have without Voter ID,” Snowden said. “It’s a certainty that it’s going to happen and I’ll tell you why. The Supreme Court of the United States has already said you can have it. You’ve got a House and a Senate that’s committed to doing it.”
Snowden said people seem to think that the Justice Department has the last word on the subject.
“The Justice Department does not have the last word on Voter ID,” he said. “They have the first word on Voter ID. If they point out something that’s not right, we’ll fix it.”
Filed under Democrats, East Mississippi, Elections, Ethics, Federal Government, Greg Snowden, Lauderdale County, Legislature, Meridian, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Republican, State Government, Voter Fraud, Voter ID
Members of a civil rights group are coming to Meridian Monday to investigate allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice that the city, county, youth court judges and Department of Human Services have operated a school-to-prison pipeline in Meridian.
City and county officials have denied the allegations.
“We are going to be there until we find out if there is any truth to it,” said Wendol Lee, president of Memphis, Tenn., based Operation Help Civil Rights Group. “If there isn’t any truth to it, we will be gone.”
Lee said if there is evidence that people have been treated unfairly in court, “or there has been any malicious prosecution,” people “will be put in jail.”
“That’s what we do,” Lee said. “We will be looking around and digging. If we find any wrongdoing we will turn it over to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.”
Representatives of the group will be at Bonita Lakes Park at 3 p.m. Monday to speak with residents.
Filed under Civil Rights, Democrats, East Mississippi, Education, Entitlements, Federal Government, Law Enforcement, Meridian, Mississippi, Politics, State Government, Superintendents, Teachers
Congratulations to Ceara Sturgis and Emily Key. This couple is planning to hold a commitment ceremony this fall in Jackson to celebrate their love for each other.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves isn’t happy about it, though.
“I am disappointed in the decision to allow a permit for same-sex marriage at a taxpayer-subsidized facility to be considered. Attorney General Hood’s legal advice goes against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Mississippians.”
That’s the statement Tate issued after the Mississippi Agriculture & Forestry Museum repealed its anti-gay policy, allowing same-sex couples to hold commitment ceremonies there.
Wow! You’d think after serving two terms as state treasurer that Tate would realize gay people pay taxes, too. You’d think serving as our lieutenant governor — governor when Phil Bryant’s out of the state — that Tate would want to represent all Mississippians.
The Justice Department said police in the city of Meridian routinely arrest public school students without determining if there’s probable cause when the school wants to press charges for a violation. Federal authorities say the students are then denied due process in Youth Court and on probation. The Justice Department did not outline specific allegations of wrongdoing against the school district in a letter to state and local authorities. Instead, it appears from the letter that the problems begin once a student is arrested.
The Police Department referred questions to a city spokesman, who didn’t immediately return a call.
Once arrested, the Youth Court puts the students on probation, sometimes without proper legal representation, according to the letter. If the students are on probation, future school violations could be considered a probation violation that requires them “to serve any suspensions from school incarcerated in the juvenile detention center,” the department said.
That means if a student is on probation and then gets suspended for a minor infraction like “dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect,” the student could have to serve that suspension in the detention center.
“The students most severely affected by these practices are black children and children with disabilities in Meridian,” the Justice Department said.
The Justice Department made the allegations in a letter to Mississippi’s governor, attorney general and various officials in Meridian and Lauderdale County.