Monday, January 19, 2015

Reeves releases budget recommendations

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves issued the following press release:

Plan includes contracting reform, increasing doctor access, 
effective education spending

JACKSON – Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves today released a legislative plan to reform state contracting laws, increase government transparency, effectively spend classroom dollars and improve medical care.
“We’ve gotten our fiscal house in order by balancing the budget, saving for a rainy day and ending the long-time shell game of spending one-time money on recurring expenses over the past three years,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “However, I believe we’re not finished weeding out wasteful spending and streamlining government programs.” 

Lt. Gov. Reeves agenda includes reforms to the state’s contracting laws to make it harder for individuals to defraud taxpayers and easier for Mississippians to see who has state contracts.
The full agenda is attached. Highlights include: 

·         Eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker.
·         Placing public hospital boards under the Open Meetings Act.
·         Reforming state contracting laws.
·         Expanding physician residency access.
·         Improving care for the mentally ill.
·         Ensuring high academic standards for Mississippi students.
·         Spending more on education based on effective district management.
·         Providing school choice for special needs children.
·         Reducing concealed carry permit fees.
·         Recognizing military training for firearm permits.

Here are the actual budget recommendations.

Responsible Budgets

Three years ago, Mississippi’s budget relied on $460 million in non-recurring revenues. Relying on one-time money created a shortfall that had to be covered each year through patchwork appropriations, jeopardizing funding stability for critical agencies and programs.

Since then, the Legislature made it a priority to stop this irresponsible budget gimmick in order to get Mississippi’s fiscal house in order. Today, Mississippi has a balanced budget, spending only recurring revenues for recurring expenses.

Conservative budgeting practices also enabled the Legislature to close funding gaps; significantly increase funding for priorities like education, public safety, and healthcare; and fill the state’s Rainy Day Fund to its statutory limit.

But sound financial stewardship isn’t limited to spending; we must also keep a watchful eye on the state’s debt. When I was elected Lieutenant Governor, I made a commitment to voters to stop the state from swiping its credit card at every turn.

I have successfully fought to block excessive bonds and reduce the overall debt burden on Mississippians. In three years, we’ve paid more than $1 billion in debt payments. By trimming debt and lowering those payments, we can redirect those funds to classrooms.

Mississippi’s economy has gradually recovered from the effects of the Great Recession, and priority budgets reflect these improvements.

The Legislature has been able to invest $250 million in education at all levels over the past three years while keeping other services funded at steady levels – an accomplishment made possible by reining in unnecessary spending and ending our reliance on one-time money.

These policies have put Mississippi on solid financial footing, paving the way for legislators to invest in outcome-based programs and provide much-needed taxpayer relief. For the first six months of the fiscal year, revenue was nearly $100 million above expectations, which means we have an opportunity to return tax dollars back to the people.

In the last three years, two out of every three state employees received a pay increase. This includes judges, attorneys, sheriffs, teachers and most state workers. Now is the time for taxpayers to get a pay raise, too. In the coming weeks, I look forward to announcing plans to provide broad-based tax relief for working Mississippians.

As a conservative, I believe government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers, and I intend to announce a tax plan that reaches all Mississippians.

As a conservative, I believe the tax code should be simple. My plan will be one that encourages capital investment in our state and promotes long-term economic growth.

In addition to taxes, policymakers must take a good look at the fees and fines Mississippians pay and determine whether that money is put to good use.

For example, the $5 fee for a vehicle inspection sticker is not effective for our state anymore. Many states are eliminating the inspection sticker as vehicles are manufactured with improved safety features. Now is the time to ditch the sticker and deploy those troopers inspecting the inspecting stations to the road to protect the public.

Transparent Government

Recent events have highlighted the need for the Legislature to redesign the methods by which the state executes contracts. While changes in law cannot completely prevent bad actors from defrauding taxpayers, changes can be made to tighten controls and bring more transparency to the process.

I believe there is a fundamental problem in the statutory makeup of the Personal Services Contract Review Board. This board is made up of the executive directors of state agencies but does not reflect non-government, private sector membership.

Unfortunately, this practice can lead to the proverbial fox watching the henhouse, since only agencies of government stand to benefit from contract approvals. While I have great respect for agency directors, we must avoid conflicts of interest by appointing private sector members to this board.

In addition to revising the PSCRB membership, we must also ensure greater legislative oversight in the procurement process. I recommend the PSCRB provide copies of the minutes of their meetings to the chairmen of the Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency Committees; provide copies of any proposals related to personal and professional services contract policies to these committees at least 15 days before voting on such proposals; and provide quarterly reports on all sole source contracts executed by state agencies.

Most importantly, I believe government contracts should be easy to find and searchable on the Transparency Mississippi website. Taxpayers should be able to see vendors and subcontractors who are performing work for the public benefit.

That is why I was proud to support legislation in the 2014 session to implement the disclosure and transparency recommendations of the PEER committee report “Contracting with State Agencies.” However, we will continue identifying ways in which to further strengthen the transparency website.

We must remember that procurement reform is only effective if it includes shining a light on agency appropriations. Fiscal transparency can provide greater oversight into how agencies collect and spend money. I believe we should implement three simple yet transformative appropriations reforms.

First, let’s discontinue the archaic practice of giving agencies a blank check to spend money outside their normal appropriations. While this “escalation authority” provides flexibility to agencies, which manage large amounts of federal funds, it is not necessary to include in most agency appropriations and leads to mischief.

Secondly, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the fact agencies, boards, commissions, and other entities of government collect myriad fees, fines, and assessments. I believe we should require all agencies to disclose their funding sources by providing a list of all fees, fines, and taxes they assess or collect, explain the basis for those collections and the statutes that allow them to levy such fines and fees. Recent events have shown that agencies have kept funding sources outside state coffers, and we must identify and eliminate such practices.

Finally, I believe we should get a handle on the practice of state employees “retiring” from government work yet keeping their job under the guise of a “contract worker.” In this scenario, workers are receiving both a paycheck from the state and monthly retirement benefits. This year, I will join Appropriations Chairman Senator Buck Clarke in pushing for greater oversight of these types of workers. We will propose prohibiting agencies from paying contract workers unless those workers meet the federal definitions for independent contractor set forth by the Internal Revenue Service.

I also believe recent events on the Gulf Coast show more transparency is needed at public hospitals. The boards of public hospitals, which are supported by taxpayer dollars, should operate in the sunlight so employees, patients and taxpayers know the level of medical care and fiscal management are operating effectively. That is why I support open meetings for public hospital boards.

Increase Physician Workforce

The State of Mississippi has made a significant investment into the construction of a new medical school building on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s campus.

This new school will allow UMMC to train future generations of Mississippians in one of the most advanced settings, as well as increase the number of physicians that graduate each year from both of the state’s medical schools.

The next step in that investment is creating more residency programs across the state to allow these graduates to train while serving the health needs of all Mississippians.

I am proposing the allocation of $4 million to create new residency slots at UMMC, as well as seed funding for residency programs in rural areas of the state. This allocation will allow more medical training to take place in Mississippi, therefore putting more practitioners in the state.

Furthermore, research has shown that physicians are more apt to practice in the geographic area they conduct their residency in upon completion.

This will put more doctors in Mississippi, which is one solution to the challenge of providing good health care in every county.

Reform Mental Health Care

Mississippi spends almost $600 million in state and federal funds caring for mentally ill patients. According to the Mississippi Medical Association, our state spends more on mental health care than any other state per capita.

In addition, the overburdened mental health system is plagued by legal disputes and settlements, costing taxpayers $26 million in the past two years alone.

That number does not include the millions spent by counties when mentally ill individuals end up in local jails.

I am calling for a Blue-Ribbon Commission to fund meaningful solutions to transform care for the mentally ill in Mississippi.

Talking to physicians, counselors, law enforcement and many others, the delivery of mental health care is a challenge in all parts of Mississippi.

I will call for the Board of Mental Health, Community Mental Health Centers, physician and nurses groups, judiciary, law enforcement, and other interested parties to come together to provide a blueprint for an effective and efficient delivery system.

This is about serving some of the most vulnerable Mississippians while ensuring we have the most advanced and efficient system to serve them with.

Strengthen Education

As policymakers, the Legislature is ultimately responsible for ensuring Mississippi schoolchildren are learning at the highest level possible.

For too long, the system has placed low expectations on students. I believe if we set the bar high enough, Mississippi schoolchildren will sail over it.

However, it is imperative that Mississippi retain control of its academic standards and implementation not administrators in Washington D.C.

That is why I support ending Common Core and establishing a task force comprised of educators, parents and subject matter experts to evaluate and create the highest level of standards in the nation for Mississippi.

Funding for education at all levels has grown $250 million over the past three years. The Legislature has focused on increasing education budgets while other agencies saw either reductions or no changes in funding.

This year, I anticipate schools receiving even more state tax dollars as the budget is finalized in March. However, we have a duty to ensure those dollars are spent effectively.

The current school funding formula has been in place for almost 20 years and – like any government program – should be not be immune from review.

The goal of any education funding formula should be to ensure funding equity while simultaneously (and more importantly) making targeted investments in what makes the most difference for students.

Currently, school funding is based on the spending habits of C-level, or average, districts. If we want our students to complete nationally and internationally, we must admit that C-rated school districts are not a strong benchmark. Instead, base-student cost must be calculated using A- and B-rated district per-pupil expenditures.

Also, the formula is flawed in the way we calculate district funding using student attendance. I support using quarterly enrollment to accurately measure how many students each district is serving.

After years of talking about school district consolidation, the Legislature is finally acting on it. In three years, the number of school districts has been reduced to 145 from 152. There are far too many school districts spending too much on central office support staff that does not positively affect the classroom or student achievement. This year, I support consolidating districts in Durant and Holmes County and continue to look at other areas where savings can be found to place more money into the classroom.

I have a fundamental belief that every child deserves an opportunity at success no matter what their parents do for a living or their zip code.

That is why I am a strong proponent of school choice and have successfully fought for public charter schools in Mississippi and clarity in the school ratings system.

This year, I will again support the rights of parents to find the best academic environment for their special needs children.

Mississippi graduates slightly more than 20 percent of special needs students. That statistic is shameful and I support parents of special needs children in their efforts to customize education to the needs of their child.

Protect Second Amendment Rights

In the 2014 Legislative Session, the Senate passed a measure that would make concealed carry permits more affordable for all Second Amendment supporters in Mississippi.

I propose similar legislation during the 2015 Legislative session to help enable all Mississippians to express their rights to bear arms.

Due to the profitability of the program, it is clear we can reduce the fiscal burden of taxpayers who want to legally carry firearms in this state without impacting the Department of Public Safety’s bottom line. There is a surplus of $2.5 million in this fund. No government agency should profit off of Mississippi gun owners. I propose reducing this fee by 20 percent.

Recognize Military Service

Mississippi has a proud military tradition. Members of the Mississippi National Guard, current soldiers and veterans went through grueling training to learn how to defend our nation. This training included extensive lessons on the proper use of firearms.

That is why I believe that training should earn active-duty soldiers and honorably discharged veterans the right to hold enhanced concealed carry permits without paying almost $200 to a private firearms instructor.


Anonymous said...

The title had me all excited as I thought it would concern the BOZO John Reeves and what he would be presenting. Couldn't wait to LMAO.

Imagine my disappointment when I found out it was Tater.

Shakin' My Head said...

11:28; If you had walkin' around sense, you might have known John doesn't present budgets other than at the kitchen table.

Anonymous said...

Funny 11:28! True too!!

Anonymous said...

Ain't nobody at the kitchen table, 1:16.

Anonymous said...

As much as I like to further gun rights I have to disagree with the military training waiver. Most military members receive extremely little training with a handgun if they receive any at all. None of this training is focused on concealed carry and carrying a loaded weapon for personal defense. This only adds more farce to the joke that the enhanced carry program already is. The class currently required by the state has nothing to do with concealed carry and usually doesn't even involve drawing from a holster at any time during the class. It is a basic beginner class at best and a going through the motions shadow of training at worst.

Kingfish said...

I agree with you. I think the Air Force spends all of one day on weapons training in basic training or that used to be the case. Most training is with rifles. Very little, if any, is with handguns or pistols. I would've stipulated if a member of the military police, then exempt.

Anonymous said...

I'd honestly rather the entire training requirement go away. The thought that someone is more dangerous in one part of the public without training is silly. If we don't trust someone to carry in a school or church without training why do we trust them to carry in a grocery store or movie theater? The training requirement was a poorly written compromise and does nothing but line the pockets of some "trainers" that do what amounts to a concealed carry talk and a basic gun safety class.

Anonymous said...


I've wondered if the enhanced carry class was supposed to be nothing more than a "hoop" to jump through. It was never meant to create proficient gunslingers.

It acts to limit the people that have it, but not to really restrict it.

It's annoying and very ineffective, but you still have to go sit in a class, go to the range with an instructor, fill out the paperwork, etc.

Anonymous said...

Gallo and JT have been on the attack against Reeves because they hate him about as much as Santa Cruz hates him which works well since DPS pays them thousand for ads and to do their bidding. The vehicle inspection is a joke but they they both railed on about its importance. Its too bad they are in the tank against reeves and for DPS so much. They have very little credibility but this shoots that.

Uh Huh said...

While Gallo appears able to carry water, it's doubtful JT could pour piss.

Anonymous said...

Tate has done a great job - he's smart - a hell of lat smarter than Cowboy Phil. I believe that Santa Cruz has something on Phil - maybe from one day in March?

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS