Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bill Crawford: Shortfalls, cuts, & oversight fights

Our Legislature faces deteriorating finances as they move to fund state government for next fiscal year.

Calling revenue collections for this fiscal year "disappointing," the Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison reported "revenue is $116 million or 4 percent below projections" for the year after falling another $18.5 million in January. In an earlier article he noted Governor Phil Bryant may have to cut existing state budgets again. Already the Governor "has been forced to cut budgets four times within a 12-month period and dip into the rainy day fund twice," wrote Harrison.

Shortfalls and cuts this fiscal year bode ill for next year. Legislators will start with less and can expect less from next year's collections.

Legislators' efforts to up revenue are meeting opposition. A bill to tax fantasy sports gambling, eh, gaming, failed. A bill to push out-of-state companies to collect sales taxes (called use taxes), similar to one adopted in Alabama, is under attack by the Mississippi Tea Party. They also attacked Commissioner of Revenue Herb Frierson for getting Amazon to voluntarily collect taxes on its sales. Proposals to raise revenue to fix deteriorating roads and bridges continue to be attacked by the Mississippi branch of Americans for Prosperity.

Another hit to next year's finances come as cuts to business taxes and personal income taxes, passed last year, begin phasing in.

In the face of these financial troubles, it only makes sense for state agencies to right size staffing. The House narrowly passed and sent to the Senate a bill allowing agency heads to ignore civil service rules to streamline operations.

House Appropriations Chairman John Read told colleagues that agency directors need this flexibility. The Clarion-Ledger reported legislative leaders hope to save $13 million from staff cuts. These cuts would add to the 1,999 unfilled positions legislators plan to eliminate. (Note to PERS – this will hurt.)

In other action, the House sent the Senate a bill to give the Governor authority to approve or disapprove operating regulations of state boards "controlled by active market participants." These are mostly boards made up of licensed practitioners who approve licenses for new practitioners. A U.S. Supreme Court decision made such boards subject to anti-trust rules unless actively overseen by government, an issue the bill resolves. In addition to accountability oversight, the Governor should be able to improve efficiency and customer service among those boards not so good at such behavior. That would be a good thing.

In contrast, the House sent the Senate a bill authorizing the University of Mississippi Medical Center to establish public corporations with limited government oversight. The bill, modeled after one in Alabama, will allow UMMC to establish cooperative arrangements or affiliations with other health care facilities and providers to improve quality of care and lower health care costs. The bill also mitigates anti-trust rules for such arrangements. With appropriate financial oversight, it will be a good way to give UMMC equal footing with out-of-state hospitals encroaching on our state.

These last two items must go to conference, if passed by the Senate, to become actionable since the House meekly put reverse repealers in them.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...

The lottery would have solved the budget & school money problems. But, the stiff necked Baptists, & Gunn failed to do the right thing.
Now, the people will take Mississippi money over the state line & play anyway paying for the other state schools leaving ours broke. What a joke these religious zealots are. I believe in GOD & Jesus Christ and find no where, were it says to be stupid for the devil loves a dumb religious zealot. I guess they don't want the school system to interfere with their home schooling or church charter schools. That's their real agenda. The Mississippi Baptist Record had an article against the lottery. Dusty Perkins is the editor & he home schooled his kids. Well, let the churches continue to scare the old people fixing to die into giving their inheritance to the church. Every church has an resource officer who will gladly steer old people money to the church.

Bill Dees said...

As for opposition to the lottery, don't forget the casino folks - they lobby heavily against any competition from a lottery.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Trump trying to repeal the tax laws prohibiting preachers from using the pulpit for political advocacy? Can you imagine what it will be like if the zealots are free to proselytize in the name of Trump? God help us.

Anonymous said...

"Out of state hospitals encroaching on our state"?

What an economic moron.

Btw, look up who runs St Dominic sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Increasing revenue via new revenue sources is not the answer. Right-sizing
all state agency number of employees and expenses is the answer. Why does
every agency need a public information section? A grants management section?
Fiscal/administrative sections? Deputy Directors, Chiefs of Staff, etc? Except for certain
emergency response and law enforcement why do all of these agencies need vehicles
assigned to specific employees. Also travel, instate and out of state travel, can be reduced.
But when we have elected officials to include legislators that approve spending elaborately
on themselves, it is difficult to establish austerity for others.

Daves not here said...

The hogs in the legislature are going to turn the trough over before they figure out how to budget.

Anonymous said...

We have had two decades of republican governors that were supposed to right size state agencies

Anonymous said...

And now Phillip and Tater are proposing a marriage tax.

Anonymous said...

We have had two decades of republican governors that were supposed to right size state agencies

And 100 years of Democrats before them that bloated the agencies beyond the ability of taxpayers to pay the freight.

Anonymous said...

What a mess! The senate passed a bill to give tax assessors and tax collectors a 20 percent pay raise . My guy already makes 100k! What in the world. Not with my tax dollars! And the marriage fee is to give circuit clerks a raise.

Anonymous said...

Now that republicans have been in charge for a decade, can we agree that our problems don't stem from party leadership (republican or democrat)? Mississippians continue to point fingers at each other while things get worse. When are we going to start working together to fix our state instead of continuing to be the laughing stock of the country?

Anonymous said...

Pay raises?

Anonymous said...

Now everyone knows that the great Tate is gonna be the next gubner. Surely if we elected feel, we gonna vote that little round an tater tot in.

Anonymous said...

No, the D party has polling that show Hood will beat Tate and think he will finally run.

Anonymous said...

If the result of " steamlining" agencies would result in more efficient and competent agencies, that would be great.
That will not happen.
What will happen instead is that Tea Party Toms and Tammys will keep their jobs ( including being transferred to a position not eliminated ) . There were no safeguards in this bill to keep that from happening.
There could have been a carefully constructed plan to eliminate specific positions and carefully put in strong job requirements for key positions.
Civil Service was created for good reason.
If you care about freedom, you should spend some time studying how dictators rise to power and countries end up with a one party system. Find out how they convinced local politicians and civilians to allow them to take control. Dictators don't rise to power overnight. They don't do it alone. Violence isn't always necessary and a would be dictator can encourage citizens to use force and violence against fellow citizens and eventually legalize it. Look at Putin for a modern day example.

Anonymous said...

Dream on 7:16 AM. Dream on.

Anonymous said...

The boards to be subject to the gov's veto power are self-funded through the fees and fines on the professionals. No effect on general fund/tax revunue or spending. There are better ways to encourage efficiency and to give oversight needed re anti-trust issue. This bill is badly conceived and will cause more problems than solutions.

Anonymous said...

Trump is already hurting Tater

Anonymous said...

So...11:19 thinks 'Democrat preachers' are the only ones who ought to remain eligible to preach pulpit politics. Democrat preachers have determined political votes in this state since reconstruction. If it's going to be allowed (which of course it always will be) why the hell not open the gate all the damned way?

Anonymous said...

Not in Mississippi he isn't.

Anonymous said...

Wrong, 10:04. I did not home school my children. My daughter and son are both graduates of Ridgeland High School, thank you very much.
As for the lottery curing all our financial ills, wasn't legal alcohol supposed to do that? Wasn't legal gambling supposed to do that, and just allowing them to come ashore after Katrina would cause the state treasury to rupture with income? In addition to being plainly uninformed about my family life, you really are naïve if you believe what the politicians are telling us about the lottery. Get the facts next time, if you capable of doing that. - William Perkins (not Dusty -- wrong about that too.)

Anonymous said...

Well, the Gub'nor, ol' Feel Buy'ant, just ordered another 7 million in emergency cuts! And here's something to warm your short and curleys - Senator Fillingane (that som'itch) proposed lowering the property tax threshold for more corporations in Mississippi.

So not only are we running the state on a wing and a prayer, but Republicans are passing out some more of that good ol' corporate welfare.

It's bad enough we have 100,000 churches in the metro who don't contribute to the infrastructure, but now we are going to have a bunch of companies using the same resources for free as well!? They are giving cuts to companies that are not even hiring people!? Who doesn't see this!?

Who the hell needs enemies with elected officials in your own backyard pulling off this sh*t!? SMH

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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).

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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.

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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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