I’ve heard Republican power brokers are already working on a fairly complicated contingency plan involving multiple appointments that could end with a South Mississippian in the lieutenant governor’s office if Cochran steps down before his term ends. Gov. Phil Bryant would appoint Cochran’s replacement until an election could be held.
Bryant could choose Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for Cochran’s seat. There’s friction between the Bryant and Reeves camps at the Capitol and the move would get Reeves out of the state Senate, clearing the way for Bryant to appoint his own lieutenant governor. The guv’nah would then have a full-time legislative water carrier who could settle in as an incumbent before running for election.
Word around the campfire is it’s likely he’d go with one of two Coastians to replace Reeves. This would be major, given
Coast candidates have historically fared very poorly in statewide elections.
Bryant’s top choice may be State Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, a staunch Bryant loyalist who had been rising fast after taking office in 2008, but has seen his influence diminish substantially during the Reeves regime because of drama between the two camps.
If not Watson, things would get a little weirder.
Bryant could appoint former State Sen. Billy Hewes, Gulfport’s next mayor, who was Bryant’s pro tem when Bryant was lieutenant governor.
Hewes lost his 2011 bid to become lieutenant governor when Reeves beat him in the Republican primary. But he’s also a seasoned politician with connections forged during a 20-year stint in the Legislature.
Filed under Billy Hewes, Congress, contributor, Governor, Gulf Coast, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, Opinion, Phil Bryant, Politics, Public Service, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves
UPDATE: Listen to this interview with Treasurer Lynn Fitch for more information about the MPACT Audit and the future of the program.
The final phase of the audit of the MPACT program is released today by Treasurer Lynn Fitch after presentation to the MPACT Board.
Here is a first look:
Below are links that show the history of where we are, and how we got there:
September 17, 2012: MPACT program being audited
September 19, 2012: Fitch and Reeves spar over MPACT program at budget meeting
September 28, 2012: Wilson: Fitch right to verify soundness of MPACT program
January 12, 2013: Treasurer Fitch says first phase of MPACT audit raises concerns.
March 4, 2013: PEP Talk Podcast: Treasurer Lynn Fitch talks Financial Literacy, MPACT and state debt planning.
Today: MPACT Board to receive performance audit on underperforming program.
The future of the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program will be discussed Tuesday during a meeting of the state board that oversees the program.
New enrollment in the program that allows families to prepay a student’s college tuition was put on hold last year by state Treasurer Lynn Fitch and the College Savings Plan Board because of a roughly $94 million deficit in what would be required to fully fund the tuition of each of the approximately 22,000 participants already enrolled.
The second phase of the audit is set to be presented today to board members. In January, the first phase of the audit raised concerns about the viability of MPACT and suggested pricing and contract changes.
Fitch has said a decision on the future of MPACT wouldn’t be made until recommendations come in the second phase of the audit.
Officials with the state treasurer’s office said the latest audit report won’t make a recommendation on whether to keep the program open or to close it because that wasn’t part of what the firm was asked to do.
Gabriel Roeder Smith and Co. sent the final report to the Mississippi College Savings Plan board of trustees last week, according to state Department of Treasury spokeswoman Sherri Hilton.
The audit report won’t be released to the public until after it is presented to the board.
“We feel board members should have the opportunity to read the report and look over it before seeing it in the news,” Hilton said.
Another perspective of the “New” Mississippi State Capitol building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gov. Phil Bryant is calling the Mississippi Legislature back into special session on April 29, Capitol sources say, to consider economic incentives for an automotive supplier that wants to locate a plant near West Point.
A spokesman for Bryant did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. But some Capitol staffers are being told to prep for a special session, and several lawmakers were receiving word.
“All I’ve heard is that we’re being called back on April 29th,” said Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville. “The topics have not been communicated to me.” Sen. Will Longwitz, R-Madison, said he heard the same.
Filed under Democrats, Economic Development, Governor, Legislature, MDA, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Phil Bryant, Philip Gunn, Politics, Public Service, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves, Taxes
Speaker Gunn did show on one central issue in this session a bit more flexibility than is often the case these days in our polarized legislative bodies. He wanted a broader, more sweeping charter school bill than the Legislature eventually approved. But he gauged the membership and knew what was possible.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the Senate wanted more than the House was willing to give. Gunn made the matter a simple choice: Do you want to get something passed, or do want to go down in flames with your purity of purpose intact?
Lawmaking is about compromise and consensus, the speaker preached – a sentiment that used to be self-evident but that has given way to insistence on all-or-nothing in so many circumstances.
Gunn was insistent that the charter school legislation that emerged from House-Senate negotiations could actually pass the House. That meant he and other charter school supporters didn’t get everything they wanted, but they got much more than they would have otherwise. Legislative compromise – what a concept.
Filed under charter schools, Education, Legislature, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Opinion, Philip Gunn, Politics, Public Service, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves
The 2013 legislative session will be remembered as a session in which the Republican leadership that dominates state government made K-12 public education a priority. Despite histrionic arguments from the state’s K-12 education lobby over the GOP leadership’s priorities, level of funding and methodologies, Bryant, Reeves and Gunn and their Republican legislative majorities spent an inordinate amount of time talking about K-12 education in 2013 and got their reforms enacted.
Looking back to the days when Mississippi Democrats dominated state government to the same degree that the GOP does today — and let’s face it, that involves over a century of political domination and policy responsibility — the conclusion is inescapable that the race for education reform in Mississippi is a marathon rather than a sprint. It was true for the Dems, it will be true for the GOP.
Filed under Education, Legislature, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Opinion, Phil Bryant, Philip Gunn, Politics, Republican, State Government, Superintendents, Tate Reeves, Teachers
The House on Tuesday passed a charter schools bill 62-56 with, oddly, no debate or questions on House Bill 369, the “Charter Schools Act of 2013.”
The chamber’s first vote on the bill, on Jan. 24, came only after 10 hours of debate that ran into the wee hours of the morning.
The House action came after Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and other GOP Senate leaders backed down from their push for a more expansive charter schools bill and accepted the weaker House version.
Five Democrats voted for the bill; six Republicans against in the House.
Filed under charter schools, Education, Legislature, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Politics, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves, Teachers
Faced with repeated warnings that changes could jeopardize support, Mississippi senators have agreed to the House version of a bill to expand charter schools.
An agreement between the House and Senate was filed 20 minutes before an 8 p.m. deadline Monday to work out differences between the chambers. The bill (House Bill 369) must still be agreed to by a majority of both the House and the Senate and signed by Gov. Phil Bryant.
The House bill would allow a seven-member board to approve up to 15 new charter schools a year. Boards in districts graded A, B and C would get vetoes over charter schools in their boundaries. Mississippi grades school districts on an A-F scale. No student would be allowed to cross district lines to attend a charter school in another district. That bar on crossing district lines could impede the creation of charter schools in districts with fewer students.
Charter schools — public schools that agree to meet certain standards in exchange for freedom from regulations — would have to be nonprofit entities. So would their management companies.
House and Senate negotiators have approved a roughly $200 million bond bill for the upcoming fiscal year.
“I think everyone will be happy,” Senate Ways and Means Chairman Joey Fillingane said.
In 2012, Reeves stiffed the House in bond negotiations, surprising House leaders by deciding to go without a bond bill rather than agree to borrow more money than he wanted. House leaders failed in their attempts to get charter school expansion proposals through their chamber, with their last try dying embarrassingly on a committee vote.
Reeves’ tight management style made it clear that all negotiations with the Senate were talks with him. Overall, the former state treasurer stamped himself as the most powerful figure in the legislative process.
But this year, as Reeves as continued to push for his version of charter school proposals, it’s become possible that a failure will be blamed on him by many Republicans.
Reeves’ my-way-or-the-highway approach has continued in 2013. For example, House leaders were dumbfounded by Reeves’ lack of warning on his decision to reject $60 million in additional revenue projected by estimators for the current budget year. And his decision to meet with House Democrats opposed to charter schools without going through the House leadership was also perceived as a slight.
Filed under charter schools, Democrats, Education, Ethics, Legislature, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Philip Gunn, Politics, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves