Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bill Crawford: To Ponder or Ignore

Riding the rural highways of Mississippi, it’s easy to see why so many citizens want taxes cut. Vistas of disrepair and deterioration overwhelm. Strapped folk in these areas see little benefit from state spending. To them, every precious dollar they send to state and local governments must seem to disappear down endless holes. They are beyond taxed enough already.

Now, these highways they depend on for work, church, and groceries have begun to buckle and crack. Bad roads will worsen their plight unless and until money is spent to fix them. But there is not enough money for repairs, especially for poor, rural areas. And there won't be without more tax revenues.

This infrastructure calamity has become a matter of great ponderation in Jackson.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told a Stennis Institute gathering last week the matter is one legislators can’t ignore, adding road and bridge repair is a “core function” of government. True, so long as pondering is different from ignoring.

You see, legislators have known about, and pondered, this problem for years. Back in 2009 their own PEER Committee told them the backlog for just bridge repairs had grown to $975 million. Then, in 2013, PEER told them the bridge backlog had jumped to $2.7 billion. In 2015 the Mississippi Economic Council told them nearly $6 billion was needed to fix both bridges and highways.

Naturally, each bigger number created a need for greater ponderation.

Today, money needed to fix roads and bridges is nearing $7 billion.

Meanwhile, legislative leaders have a self-made dilemma. Back in 2015, business leaders warned them bad roads would hurt the state economy and asked them to raise taxes. Legislative leaders promised to take care of the issue. Instead, they’ve pondered.

This past summer, legislative leaders listened to their chosen tax consultant tell them user taxes should be the primary means of funding government functions. They liked what they heard.

Well, the gas tax is the user tax Mississippi levies to pay for roads and bridges. It was last increased in 1987. For years now, it has provided too little money to cover both new construction and repairs. The easy and, according to the tax consultant, proper fix would be to increase the gas tax.

Anti-tax rural folks have a different thought. They want tax cuts, not tax increases, not even just a few cents per gallon of gas. They don’t get, or don’t care, that good roads are essential for a good economy.

Meanwhile, roads and bridges deteriorate more each year, putting everyone’s economic well-being at risk.

Impatient business leaders want legislative leaders to keep their promise. Republican legislators in control understand, but want to keep their jobs.

As drivers jerk and shudder down ever more rugged highways, they can rest assured of one thing. Mississippi’s legislative leaders, like Pinky and the Brain, will ponder this matter with great deliberation.

PS - Reeves said possible help from Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan would now be included in their ponderation.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


T.E.A. said...

The first paragraph contains the words Taxed Enough Already. But, but...everybody on this blogsite is anti TEA Party.

Anonymous said...

the bad thing is that government is the enemy of improvement, and we as citizens currently have to rely on the decision making capabilities of the enemy to improve / correct / repair that which is in dis-repair, about to be in dis-repair, or so far gone, that they can only blockade it off. It's totally stinks to know that the idiots that got us here are the same ones that will have oversight in attempting corrective measures. SUXS FOR US!!!

I simply wonder when anyone, in any elected position will understand all they have to do is put fair measures in place, guidelines to create nice spaces for people to live / work / play......and then get out of the way and SERVE.

We are our on worst enemy.....we elected these fools

Anonymous said...

Did a Koch funded think Tank say that Mississippi has very good roads?

Anonymous said...

People can see that not very much of the money collected from taxes has been spent on road repair. Where has that money gone? Why should people want to pay more taxes for road repair knowing any additional taxes will go the way past taxes have gone?

Taxes were enough to build the roads. Additional taxes have been paid every year. The money has evaporated. We have elected people who are failures. Why pay even more taxes when the same people, or the same type, are still in charge of spending. Instead of raising the taxes we should demand an account of the money already spent.

Anonymous said...

The 1987 highway program (AHEAD) included money for both the 4-lane construction program AND the maintenance required.

The problem came about by the 2001 state "leadership" - led by Governor Musgrove and the Democrat controlled House and Senate. They brought about a new highway program, but funded it not with new money, but by taking the maintenance money from the 1987 program.

Granted, we got more new highways out of the 2001 program - probably needed. But because Ronnie didn't want to have a tax increase to run on, he, Ford and Tuck put together the concept (with of course House Transportation Committee chairman McCoy) of how to build roads but ignore maintaining them. I guess their concept was 'if you build it, somebody else will have to figure out how to keep them up'. Not quite as good a theory as build it and they will come.

Anonymous said...

MDOT has built expensive maintenance buildings across the state with large emergency generators that are nice, but not essential. The crews work four days a week and the lots are empty of pickup trucks seven days a week as employees take them home at night. Total waste. The list is long, but MDOT's culture must change before I, as a business owner, will lend my support to a tax increase. Yes they probably need additional dollars, but let's cut the waste first.

Pappy O'Daniel said...

The problem is government doesn't maintain jack squat. There is always money to tear something down or build something new or to enter into some "economic development " project at taxpayers expense. We've spent the last 50 years not maintaining a damn thing. There needs to be a moratorium on new construction and a massive multi-year maintenance program. Sitting around hoping and praying for Uncle Donald to bail us out will yield the same results all the infrastructure money in the stimulus did. And if we start moving aggressively on repairing roads then we will have a queue built with actual "shovel-ready" projects. Another thing that would help is if everyone would stop electing the village idiot to send to Jackson. Regardless of party people need to draft some talent that give a damn about this state.

Anonymous said...

Canton has the best roads in the metro.

Anonymous said...

3:02, About the only people who will run for office is the village idiot or the village thief. Everyone else knows what will have to be done and do not want to have to explain to the people that they have to cut the waste.
The village idiot does not know any better and the village thief is just going to steal what they can.

Anonymous said...

MDOT needs to be privatized.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should just fix their own roads and see if that costs them less than their tax share.

That's been the " rationale" of the "No More Taxes " folks.

They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing and zero interest in the future of our Nation.

I'm sure Putin will fix the roads and get trains for us. It'll be great. Or maybe we can import camels.

Anonymous said...

Trump fix MS Roads...not likely.

Anonymous said...

Once again, we go on the Federal dole to get money. We are such a welfare state--we take federal dollars like they are going out of style..and let's get real: the Feds are printing money as fast as they can, and we don't have enough money to cover the in essence WE are part of the problem.

Lets..consolidate school systems, charge tuition at state universities and community colleges that will make them less dependent on state funds, make the hard choices at state agencies, and invest in businesses that can grow our economy instead of beef and coal plants.

Atlas Shrugged--indeed.

Anonymous said...

"Litter Free By Two Thousand Three"

Anonymous said...

Why is the liberal response to any issue a new tax or an increase in an existing tax? We do not need more government but less, more efficient government. Unfortunately most politicians begin running for re-election as soon as they are elected using government money and programs to buy votes. If the President of the US is limited to 2 terms then every other politician should be limited to 2 terms. Old saying says that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we need government to be more efficient.
I would suggest we need every thing in our lives to maximize efficiency and good decision making.
We also need for our rules and laws to make it more difficult, not easier for the greedy and corrupt to abuse any organization or system.
We need all organizations and systems to minimize the impact of the person who rises beyond their level of competency.
I need to replace my drive way. I only need to dig down another 2 feet to make it more stable. My driveway is less than 50 yards. The cost will be $25000. I suggest all of you look at what it costs to build one mile of highway without bridges ( 2 lane and 4 lane with no bridges is possible per state). It varies because of the weather and geology. It is 6 to 7 figures in every state for a two lane highway. Resurfacing is temporary and not possible and not as much cheaper as you will imagine.
The reason so many politicians choose to do something else, is for the same reasons I haven't fixed my driveway, there have been expense that couldn't wait like college tuition for my children and health care and roof replacement. I'm going to fix the driveway this year finally but it's had to wait and I've had to set money aside little by little just for that.
I don't agree with the priorities of every government agency and administration. There is corruption and misspending but it's not that I pay too much in taxes. It's frankly that I pay too little since so many of you got on the " no new tax" bandwagon.
You fix it by making it harder for those you elect to spend money to help themselves but then wait, you don't want regulation either.
You want a perfect system where all men are honorable. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Ronnie Who?

Anonymous said...

Some people tend to forget all of the money paid in gasoline taxes. They like to make excuses that there are more cars on the highways but do not think that these cars still use gas and still pay taxes on every gallon. They also do not want to talk about all of the taxes taken in the past years that have disappeared. People have a reason to think additional taxes are not the answer. Until something is done about spending paying more in taxes will only go into the pocket of some politician , their family, or friends.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! I thought the tax on legalized alcohol would solve our infrastructure problems. No. Wait... I'm sorry the casino money was supposed to solve our infrastructure problems. Darn it, I thought Nissan money would solve our infrastructure problems. Wait! I see something on the horizon that will solve all of our financial problems in Mississippi. Just legalize marijuana sales and the tax revenue will fix all of our problems..........

p.s. The marijuana money will disappear also.

Anonymous said...

The legislature will never tax pot. They never tax themselves.

Anonymous said...

Always a lot of promises that everything will be great only if we take a little more of your money. Every time the money disappears. We are left paying more taxes with the same old problems. The one thing that always seems to happen is the politicians come out a little better off with each added tax. Politicians like that. Their family and friends like that. The people paying the added taxes are left waiting for their money to be used as promised. It never is but they keep falling for the same trick time after time. Looks like they would learn some day.

Anonymous said...

The main issue with Mississippi's state legislature, they do not know how to appropriate the money they receive from revenues. Additionally, they waste too much time focusing on stuff that is just flat out B.S. Stop focusing on the social garbage, sanctuary cities, religious freedom, penalties for not saying the pledge. All they do is spin their wheels. No major accomplishments for a state where the bar is set so low. Education, Health care, Infrastructure, Unemployment, Insurance premiums, Taxes, Jobs, Development, Growing Mississippi.

When was the last time they actually passed something that benefitted all the residents in the state? Regardless of who was running the show? They have nothing to stand on and the numbers do not lie.

So now that citizens are tired of driving on crappy roads across the state, all of sudden Tate Reeves says its not a political issue, but he says its an issue with funding. Well of course its an issue with funding, when you do not actively track projects across the state and how they are getting done. They are awarding bids to contractor buddies and dragging their feet to each election. And the ones that voted for them there, give them a pass by re-electing or electing to higher office.

They are not going to change until you start holding their feet to the fire and hold them accountable for delivering real tangible results.

Thats why Tate Reeves should not be promoted to the office of Governor, he will only continue the failed policy agenda Phil Bryant started.

Anonymous said...

People who are serious about their government, need to start reading the annual appropriation report submitted by the Legislative Budget Office.

They have to report on where the money comes from and who its going to and how its getting spent.

If you do not read that report, you will not have a clue on whats going on.

Anonymous said...

11:25, and if you do read the report you still will not know where the money comes from and where the money goes.
The people elect those they believe will do what is in the best interest of the people of Ms. Every single time they are very disappointed with their choice. The only thing politicians can count on is that the people will always defend their own party and ignore the criminal acts of their own politicians. They know they can always blame the other party for everything bad and praise themselves for everything good and still count on the party members. Even when they are doing exactly the same thing the other party did.
How did people gecome this gullible? What has happened to honesty?

Anonymous said...

Bill, It's pander, not ponder.

Anonymous said...

The state roads I travel seem to be in fine condition. That doesn't mean there aren't bad ones. And of course they must be maintained. And I'm not driving heavy trucks over bridges. And I live in Jackson so maybe in comparison to the city streets most roads are pretty good.

Anonymous said...

@11:06 Not everyone on this blog site is "anti-TEA Party". Some of us were
Taxed Enough Already before the Tea party was even a thing. What started out as a platform for limited government/less taxation was highjacked by insidious people that were far too concerned about social issues and war with Iran rather than less taxes and government intrusion. And yeah, war costs money too. If you know your history, then you would know that war and the taxation that's needed to
pay for it is the reason Corporations started to keep money offshore and repatriate at 5% if they can get it at that rate.
Fact is, the Tea Party is just the latest iteration of the Republican Party line. It's easy to manipulate people who rely on the collective hive mind Kool-aid rather than the ones who think for themselves.

Anonymous said...

@ January 16, 2017 at 11:53 AM

" and if you do read the report you still will not know where the money comes from and where the money goes."

Then you must not understand what is on that report - because you have to take that information and correlate it to the agency's appropriation bill signed off by the governor of Mississippi.

Everyone has access to that information, people are just too damn lazy to do their homework and read the agency appropriation bills from the Mississippi Legislative website.

One appropriation bill you fiscal hawks should be reading, is the Department of Public Safety, since everyone is so gung ho on forking more money to DPS to start up another trooper class.

Mississippi Highway Troopers are well paid, their salaries are based on years of service, as well as a separate retirement plan. While most civil employees have to work 25+ years or retired with age, they can retire after 20 years of service.

Do not fall for the banana in the tail pipe. Do your due diligence.

Anonymous said...

9:13, I seem to remember another person who liked the old banana saying. He wasn't a bright person either. Wonder if you are him or just a carbon copy?

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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.

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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.

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