Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bill Crawford: Shrink the legislature

Republican legislators insist they are making the right moves to "rightsize" state government, which includes shrinking the state budget. If they mean what they say, the Legislature, itself, should be on the rightsizing menu too.

Mississippi has one of the larger legislatures in the United States, especially for our small population. We have 122 representatives and 52 senators for a total of 174 legislators. This means the 50th state in wealth has the 14th highest number of legislators and the 12th highest ratio of legislators per capita. 

Mississippi has by far the most legislators and highest ratio of legislators per capita in our region.

Looking at our neighboring states, we see Louisiana has 144 legislators, one for every 31,482 people; Alabama has 140 legislators, one for every 34,141 people; Arkansas has 135 legislators, one for every 21,599 people; and Tennessee has 132 legislators, one for every 48,077 people.

In comparison, Mississippi has 174 legislators, one for every 17,053 people.

Going with Tennessee's ratio of legislators per capita would have the most impact. That would give Mississippi 62 legislators, one for every 48,077 people. Going with Arkansas's ratio would have the least impact. That would give Mississippi 137 legislators, one for every 21,599 people.

It probably makes more sense to use the average of our neighboring states as a guideline. In that case, Mississippi would have 88 legislators, one for every 33,712 people.

Rightsizing the Legislature makes more sense now than in past years. It's pretty obvious that most legislators are just not needed. Decisions on legislation come down from on high. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and his key committee chairmen keep tight rein on legislation in the Senate. Speaker Philip Gunn and his key committee chairmen do the same in the House.


Since it's clear Mississippi is wasting taxpayers' dollars by having so many legislators and even more clear we don't need 174 legislators to pass legislation, why not save millions of taxpayer dollars by reducing the size of our Legislature? 

The number needed is really very small, but why not go with the average ratio of legislators per capita from our neighboring states? That would give us 88 legislators, about half the number we have now. If the rightsizing is done right, i.e., no changes in salary or expenses per legislator, this reduction would save taxpayers a substantial portion of the $28 million legislators spend on themselves each year.

So, how can our legislators rightsize down to this number? 

Section 254 of the state constitution says they can pick any number of senators and representatives as long as they do not exceed 52 and 122, respectively. So, all our legislators have to do is reapportion the state to say 26 senators and 62 representatives (the same ratio we have now) and we'll be down to 88 legislators.

Since our Republican legislators are dead set on, and surely sincere about, rightsizing state government and shrinking the state budget, we should expect something like this to happen in time for the next elections.

Or will the ganders not goose themselves like they are everything else?

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

california has 40 million people, about 12% of the population of the USA, and per capita has a legislature 4 times smaller than mississippi. there is not a state in the nation that has more worthless deadweight feeding at the public trough.

Anonymous said...

The only way this gets done is if we completely turn over the entire legislature with new people with no plans for turning a part time job into a full time income. While we're at it, I think everyone should have a pony.

Anonymous said...

Assuming we can keep the same ratio of majority minority districts, and not the same NUMBER, I find myself in rare agreement with Crawford. Or do the Feds no longer require we do that?

Anonymous said...

Since Crawford is big into ratios then the new 62 member House would consist of 45 Republicans and 17 Democrats.

The 26 member Senate would be 17 Republicans and 9 Democrats.

But that isn't really what Crawford has in mind.

Anonymous said...

never going to happen. ever.

Anonymous said...

Great idea, but also need to look at per diem and mileage payments. Why should Phillip Gunn who I think lives in Clinton and Tate Reeves who lives off Lakeland in Rankin county collect per diem and mileage during session. I am sure they are able to go home and eat and sleep. Per diem which is considered income toward retirement. I will bet you both of them as well as others living within 30 miles of capitol submit mileage to drive to the capital and home. I don't get paid mileage to go to work. How about you? The session should also be shorter and remove gaveling in on 4:00pm on Mondays and gaveling out at 9:00 on Fridays. Since most only work on Tuesday-Thursday lets make that the days they meet from 8-5. If you have to leave north Mississippi early to be there by 8, you can skip the nightly feeding and get drunk receptions and go to bed early. Stop the stupid recognitions and welcomes of anybody attending the legislature from any senators or representatives districts and get to work. We seem to be able to run the legislature with just four people because Tate, Phillip, Buck, and Reid are the only ones who are making decisions. I am a Republican, but will be the first to admit having a super majority of Republicans a mistake. There is no way in hell I will for that nerdy dictator-want-to-be Tate Reeves for Gov.

Anonymous said...

in the old days the legislature met for the 31 days of january because that was the slowest period of time for an agricultural economy. the harvest was in and the planting had not yet started. the legislature was intended to be a part-time job for elected officials . it has now morphed into a full time 6 to 8 month job for legislators so they may run a state that is basically a third world country. the only thing they are capable of is packing their faces with steak , lobster, and free booze at ticos restaurant , all courtesy of the lobbyists that control them. hell, there is a special room at ticos called the locker room , where the speaker holds court with all the lobbyists . its not open to the public. you got to cut through the kitchen to get to it. the truth hurts people but mississippi will remain a third world country so long as it is run by a single political party. and take a wild guess which party that is.

Anonymous said...

MS has the second highest statewide sales tax. Behind no other than CA. And yes, still broke. And the state doesn't allow county sales tax. If you want to make your state grow, county government is the key not the state. Your county gov has one of the lowest property tax rates and the counties are prohibited from sharing the sales tax revenue. Also your state has a very limited county gov system with only 5 per county. Which is good. Most all the states around you have more county officials per county.

You're Back Again? said...

I am a Republican, but will be the first to admit having a super majority of Republicans a mistake.

Same BS you keep plying here over and over and over again.

Anonymous said...

A-freaking-men Mr Crawford. A whole new constitution would be nice also.

Anonymous said...

3:19, are you certain of that? I lived in Alabama and paid 10% sales tax PLUS additional taxes on restsurants, wine, and other alcohol, PLUS additional income witholdings to the local jurisdiction.

Anonymous said...

For once, I agree with Crawford. I think 30 Senators and 60 Reps would be a nice even number.

Anonymous said...

3:19 is an authoritative sounding troll but one that is full of it.

Anonymous said...

Is this a good idea? Sure, but it doesn't address the real issue. Our state's spending is out of control, due primarily to medical entitlement programs and our failure of a government school system. Saving $28 Million would be nice, but let's address the real issues that are breaking the state. We're spending millions on these failed systems, and also spending millions to lock people up for drug crimes. If you cap enetement spending, cap education spending, and give parents and patients choice in both, we would see drastic improvements in care and savings. And legalize weed while you're at it. That's a huge cash crop we will miss the boat on.

Anonymous said...

I believe Tom Cameron (Delta) and Elvis from up around Madison got 'right sized' a few years back. And surely they will retire Steve Holland's number when he leaves.

Anonymous said...

Funny how some folks only oppose single party rule when it's not their party in power. Mississippi has always been a one party ruled state...just happens the party changed. Maybe it's the craven nature of those drawn to politics, the sway of the monied lobbies, or maybe something besides the freaking letter after their name. The system is corrupt and needs reform. We lack the will to do it because we're too absorbed in whether the red or blue team is winning. They're laughing at us all the way to the bank.

“A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.” -Lysander Spooner

Anonymous said...

As a legislator, I couldn't agree more. I think 82 and 41 is a good way to do it. I'd say that some of the savings ought to go into hiring policy staff for the members (maybe 1 R & 1 D per committee or something like that). And we ought to look at moving the session to the summer.

Also, @ 2:26 I don't think Lt. Gov. Reeves or Speaker Gunn get a per diem. I think there is a rule that those who live within 30 or 40 miles don't get a per diem or only get the cost of lunch or something like that.

Anonymous said...

SLRP. Anyone want to read their balance sheet?

Plain ol' Catfish said...

@ April 8, 2017 at 10:47 PM

"Our state's spending is out of control, due primarily to medical entitlement programs and our failure of a government school system."

The "medical entitlement" programs are covered by the federal government, so you are off there.

Education is top heavy.

As far as the spending, let's change the narrative to poorly appropriated.

Legislators want money to go to bullsh*t projects to fund corporate welfare when the focus should be on the infrastructure, investing in Mississippi's human capital - to maintain the state's workforce, stabilize the economy.

Mississippi is not properly investing in its citizens - the legislators are going about it backward. The people here are under educated, in poor health, the roads are terrible, its a logisitical nightmare to go from one in of the state to the other. The Gulf Coast and Mississippi are great for bringing in international resources to the region and state - but look at the ports and then look at the means of transporting goods in a timely fashion from Biloxi to Central and North Mississippi?

Lot of opportunity to do good things - but the legislature is full of garbage people, who can't see pass rejecting services to gay people and giving someone the right to carry a gun in a church!?

This place is in love with futility!

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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!!!

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